Seven Candidates to Run for Jackson Co. Sheriff

Friday was the last day to qualify for the Jackson County Sheriff’s race. Now that the official list is complete, News 25 met up with several candidates to see why they want to be Jackson County’s next Sheriff.

All of the seven sheriff candidates have extensive law enforcement experience and are familiar with Jackson County, but each has a unique focus and goals for the future of the sheriff’s department. Interim sheriff Charles Britt has had some major successes while standing in as Sheriff. Britt says, “Things are going very well in the sheriff’s department as people can come in and see. Like I said, budget performance, all of our units in the field are doing some excellent work, we’re making some good arrests, we’re putting a lot of people in jail that need to be there.”

Britt has joined forces with many city police forces and led a major drug bust in Jackson county just a few weeks ago. Britt also has 31 years of law enforcement experience and has led the sheriff’s department for 10 months on the platform of integrity, transparency, and honesty.

Bruce Lynd was the first candidate to announce his run for Sheriff. Lynd has 23 years of law enforcement experience and is a lifelong resident of Jackson County. He hopes to focus on not only restoring integrity to the sheriff’s department, but also the budget. Lynd says, “One of the things that keeps county employees from retiring when they reach retirement age is health insurance. I have a plan for that. It would also give every county employee throughout the county a pay raise, but yet will still save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Mike Ezell is also running to be Sheriff. He has 34 years of law enforcement experience and has been heavily involved in his community. Ezell says he is focused on protecting community members that need the most help. Ezell says, “Work hard with the community to get the message out that we want to look out for our youth. We want to look out for our seniors. We’ll want to work with the schools and the high schools and the elementary schools.”

Ezell will also face Scott McIlrath, a Jackson County resident who grew up the son of a police officer. McIlrath has devoted 30 years to law enforcement, ten of those as Chief Investigator for the District Attorney’s Office. He was the lead investigator for the case of former Sheriff Mike Byrd, and has experience in all aspects of law enforcement. McIlrath says, “I’ve investigated white collar crime, corruption, murder, child molesting charges, I’ve worked in every aspect of it, and I’m the only candidate who can say he’s worked for cases from the crime scene to the courtroom to a conviction.”

Jeff Barnes will also be running for Sheriff. His number one focus is to restore integrity to the sheriff’s department with his professionalism, skills, and experience. He has 29 years in the industry and is a combat veteran who was wounded in Iraq. Bob Cochran and Shelia Smallman are also running but were not immediately available Friday for comment.

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