Randy Townsend to run for sheriff
The Republican candidate will challenge incumbent Sheriff Len Hagaman, a Democrat nearing the end of his second term. Hagaman said Tuesday he "most definitely" plans to run again.
Born and raised in the area, Townsend graduated Watauga High School in 1985 before earning a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Appalachian State University in 1988. He is a resident of the Rutherwood/Deep Gap community and attends Rutherwood Baptist Church.
Townsend's career in law enforcement spans 25 years, including work as a sheriff's deputy under Sheriff Red Lyons and a police officer for the Appalachian State University Police Department.
He current serves as chief probation/parole officer for Watauga County, a department where he has worked for the past 21 years.
"I chose a career in law enforcement because of my strong dedication to protecting the public, and as your sheriff, my No. 1 goal will be to ensure that our county is a safer place to live, conduct business and raise a family," Townsend said in a statement Monday.
Townsend said his top priorities as sheriff would be:
1) Aggressive enforcement of illegal drug activity: Target the drug dealers that are manufacturing and selling drugs to our youth and adults in our communities. This is extremely important because these are many of the same offenders that are breaking in to citizen's homes, committing larcenies, frauds and violent crimes to fund their drug addictions, he said.
2) Crime prevention: Reduce crime through education and a highly visible patrol of all neighborhoods and businesses in the county while actively seeking citizens' involvement.
3) Office of high standards and values: Supervise and maintain a sheriff's office of high standards and values that is accountable to the citizens of Watauga County.
4) School safety: Work closely with the school administrators to be sure that officers are well-trained and prepared to respond when school incidents occur.
5) Quality investigation: Officers will physically respond to calls. Crimes will be professionally investigated and given the detail and commitment that the citizens expect and deserve.
Townsend said he would immediately begin reviewing each division within the department, continuously strive to provide a professional, honest and well-trained sheriff's office, and see that citizens' tax dollars are spend efficiently and effectively.
"I am seeking the office of Watauga County sheriff so that I may use my experience, commitment and supervisory skills to improve the quality and operations in the sheriff's office," Townsend said. "I will be a very hardworking, hands-on sheriff, being highly visible throughout the community. Being part of the day-to-day operations within the department will be of highest priority, and ensuring the sheriff's department has an open door policy in which I will be available to all citizens to address their questions or concerns."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated how many terms Sheriff Len Hagaman has served. The article has been corrected.