In a debate on Tuesday, the two men competing to be the next Mecklenburg sheriff disagreed about whether the county should open satellite detention facilities in the north and south.
The debate between Republican Chris Hailey and Democrat Irwin Carmichael was taped Tuesday, two days before voters begin casting early ballots. The full debate will be televised on WTVI PBS Charlotte at 6:45 p.m. Sunday. It was sponsored by the public television station and the League of Women Voters.
Early voting starts Thursday. Election Day is Nov. 4.
On Tuesday, the candidates hammered on platform planks they’ve highlighted since the primaries. Both said they have 28 years of law enforcement experience.
Decentralization is one of Hailey’s top talking points. Opening satellite offices to temporarily hold arrestees, he said, would mean officers spend more time on the street and less time carting people to jail.
“Mecklenburg has over a million people,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense for the sheriff's office to continue to be centralized.”
But in a rebuttal, Carmichael said decentralizing the jail would be costly, and would have a small benefit at best.
“We actually ran the numbers and with all six towns outside Charlotte ... it represents 5 percent of total arrests, yet it’s going to cost tens of millions of dollars to operate this,” Carmichael said.
Hailey billed himself as a fiscal conservative with a master’s degree in organizational management, which he said would serve him well in managing the office of 1,200. He was formerly a Raleigh police officer and an N.C. Highway Patrol trooper and retired in July as the director of public safety training at Central Piedmont Community College.
“The men and women of the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office, they are all very well trained. But what they’re looking for is a leader that’s going to take them to the 21st century,” he said.
Carmichael pointed out his success in the private sector running a string of martial arts schools and his 28 years as a reserve deputy.
“I’ve been accumulating the skills to do this job for 28 years,” he said.