Five veteran law enforcement officers are running for Iredell County sheriff in Tuesday's primaries.
Phil Redmond, sheriff since 1994, faces Mooresville police Capt. Phil Blocker and sheriff's Detective Sgt. Mark Nicholson on the Republican ballot.
Jeff Cheek, who served 29 years with the Statesville Police Department, faces former sheriff's Chief Deputy Bill Stamey on the Democratic side.
The winner of each primary will advance to the Nov. 2 general election. The winner in November will serve a four-year term.
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Redmond, 68, of Union Grove said he has long fought against illegal drugs.
Since he became sheriff, he said, his interstate interdiction team and his narcotics unit have seized about $164million worth of drugs and $7million in cash from drug dealers.
"One way to combat the drug trade ... has been to aggressively attack them by seizing their money, drugs and assets," he said. "We have been successful in this effort. We have used these seized funds to buy equipment, cars, and to fund positions to provide more deputies to patrol the county and reduce crime, while saving taxpayers money."
Redmond said his office added a state-of-the-art crime lab to process illegal narcotics and assist in other narcotics and criminal investigations.
"We are now able to process fingerprints left at crime scenes and match them with suspects - firearms processing along with ballistics comparison - and are now able to process and preserve other latent evidence," he said.
"By doing so, we can reduce the time that cases are delayed by waiting for the state lab to return these items," Redmond said. "On non-priority cases, other labs could take years to get results, where, with our local lab, it takes days."
Blocker, 50, supervises the Mooresville Police Department's community services unit. He joined the department in 1987 after three years with the Wilkesboro Police Department.
Blocker was a patrol officer until 1989, when he was reassigned to the criminal investigations division, working both general and narcotics investigations. He was Mooresville High School's first school resource officer, in 1998, until he was promoted to sergeant in 1999 and took command of a patrol shift.
He was promoted to lieutenant in 2004 and became supervisor of the criminal investigations division. He was promoted to captain in 2007 and was reassigned as supervisor of the new community services unit.
Blocker is a Marine Corps veteran and member of the N.C. Police Executives Association. He was named Mooresville Police Department officer of the year by the Mooresville Exchange Club in 1993 and the Mooresville Jaycees in 1994.
As sheriff, Blocker said, he would put more uniformed officers on the street, restore countywide jurisdiction to law enforcement agencies in the county, start a countywide, law-enforcement-related advisory board of Iredell citizens, and be accessible to all county residents.
Nicholson, 43, of north Iredell has been with the sheriff's office 19 years, earning various promotions.
He started as a jailer and later was assigned to road patrol. He was a deputy for 131/2 years and has been a detective sergeant for three years, investigating everything from break-ins to homicides.
He said he hasn't discussed his candidacy with his boss, but thinks "things are not done the way they should be any longer."
While officers on the street get along well, he said, cooperation is lacking among administrators of the law enforcement agencies in the county. That's something he would improve, Nicholson said. "It's us against the bad guys, not against each other," Nicholson said.
The youngest of Nicholson's three children is due to graduate from North Iredell High School in June. Nicholson said the chief crime problem in the county is drugs in schools. He'd work closely with school resource officers on the problem. The crime rate would begin to drop, the more the problem of access to drugs at school is tackled, he said.
Cheek, 56, of Statesville, retired as a Statesville police lieutenant in 2004 and works for his youngest son, Cameron, at Cheek Lawn & Landscape of Statesville.
His No. 1 priority would be to "restore relationships" between the sheriff's office and other enforcement agencies. "As the highest-ranking officer in the county, the sheriff should foster relationships among the agencies," Cheek said.
"And I plan to be more visible, approachable and available to the citizens" than he believes the present sheriff is, he said.
Stamey, 66, of Statesville joined the sheriff's office as a jailer in 1971, after several years as a full-time Statesville firefighter. He also served in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division for three years in the early 1960s.
He rose through the ranks of the sheriff's office, as a deputy, court bailiff, detective, supervisor of the civil division and chief deputy. He spent 41/2 years as a state Alcohol Beverage Control officer in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He returned as an ABC officer and as general manager of the Statesville ABC store from 1997 to 2008.
"I love law enforcement, and that's a position I've always wanted and never had the opportunity to be," Stamey said.