At this year’s Nov. 3 general election, Leonard Sines will be challenging incumbent Vernon Stanforth for the elected position of Fayette County Sheriff.
Sines was certified as an independent candidate for Fayette County Sheriff in May. Stanforth, a Republican, has been sheriff for approximately 24 years and is running for re-election, which would be his seventh term if elected.
Sines submitted the following information to the Record-Herald:
“Leonard E Sines For Sheriff Fayette County November 3 2020
“As your sheriff I will be a working sheriff overseeing the daily operation of the department, every day in uniform in a marked cruiser doing the job citizens pay me to do. We will work for all Fayette Countians by patrolling every township, village, and every state and county roads. I will not spend my time out of the county trying to run everything. My door will always be open to every citizen who wishes to talk with me. I am active in our community and will stay active in our community. I will give deputies and employees with better working conditions, better leadership, better benefits and pay. I am against waste fraud and abuse of government funds in the sheriff office.
“We will investigate your complaints, not just take an empty report. Open up the cold cases that have been put on the dusty shelf. We will investigate them to bring closure to the families. We will work hard to stop the drug dealers deliver their deadly drugs in Fayette County killing our children, family, grandchildren, friends and neighbors. We will go after the dealer. Look towards rehabilitation to help those addicted to these deadly drugs.
“US Army veteran. Have two and half years College credits. Have completed three hundred and forty Law Enforcement schools.”
Sines declined an interview with the Record-Herald, saying that he just wanted to submit the above information.
The following responses came from Stanforth during a phone interview with the Record-Herald (responses have been shortened):
-Why are you running for another term?
“Being sheriff has been — partially been very challenging and rewarding. You know, I still feel as though I am contributing to the community,” said Stanforth. “I feel strongly about the office of sheriff, what the role of the sheriff is — the role of the sheriff’s office in the community, the leadership that it provides not only to the men and women that make up the sheriff’s office, but the leadership it provides for the community.”
-What would you say are the main responsibilities of a sheriff?
“There are no main responsibilities. It is a multi-layer responsibility. I’m the keeper of the jail. That’s one thing I try to instill in everybody that has come through our doors as employees,” said Stanforth. “Our responsibility is to keep the jail and do our best to make sure the court orders are carried out effectively, and that we do it the right way. Every individual that comes through our jail is an individual. Nobody’s a cookie-cutter inmate. Everybody has different physical needs, emotional needs.”
“We are not here to punish people, that’s the court’s responsibility. And we need to step back from that attitude that we are here as punishers,” said Stanforth. “Too many in law enforcement think they are the punishers, and they inflict that punishment on the spot. They can’t remove themselves from that, and that’s what we need to be able to train people, that you step back from that. You’re not the punisher, you’re not the executioner. You’re just to make sure that this person is held accountable to the courts, and the court will inflict the punishment that the due process allows.”
-What has been your favorite part about being sheriff?
“Interacting with the people of Fayette County and helping solve problems, if I’m able to solve them. If people are in need, or they have problems, or they have troubles, they ought to look for the sheriff to provide that guidance — to guide them through, sometimes, the darkest part of their lives. Whatever that may be, whether it’s because they’ve been victimized or even because they’re the perpetrators. They’re going to need some type of guidance,” said Stanforth.
-What has been the most challenging part of holding the office?
“Everybody wants to be right, and some are not willing to accept the fact that they could be wrong. The sheriff is always in the position of having to at least hold those individuals — you can’t satisfy everybody,” said Stanforth. “It’s a complicated balancing act. I know I’ve not satisfied everybody, and that’s frustrating to me, because I like to try to get everybody satisfied. I know that doesn’t happen, can’t happen. That’s not realistic for it to be. We deal with tragedy, tragedy every day to some degree whether somebody falls off a ladder (to them that’s the tragedy of their day), somebody dies in a car crash (that’s a tragedy we have to deal with) — my deputies have to deal with that, and keeping that balance for them, that perspective for them, is difficult for any sheriff to do.”
“The sheriff’s office is just not going on patrol. We do everything — we take care of the court, we take care of the jail, we take care of patrol, we take care of our 9-1-1 system, we do concealed carries. We have a multitude of responsibilities. Being the sheriff, you need to be able to adjust your man power and delegate your man power and still be effective in every regard. It’s just not putting on a badge and thinking you’re the tough guy in town.”
As the Nov. 3 general election gets closer, in-depth interviews will be conducted with those who choose to be interviewed.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.