There are five candidates in the Sheriff’s race in Fannin County – four Republicans: Larry Bennett, Dane Kirby, Johnny Scearce, Jack Taylor and one Democrat – Rusty Whittenbarger. All five spoke at the candidates’ forum . The Sheriff’s race offered more nuanced differences between the candidates than was present in the other of the evening’s forum participants. All candidates have extensive experience in law enforcement and law enforcement leadership. All spoke about present and future Sheriff’s Department budget needs and communication between different police districts in the county. They all agreed that drugs were the biggest criminal activity facing Fannin.
Candidates Dane Kirby, Johnny Scearce and Rusty Whittenbarger specifically commented about the Sheriff’s Department’s budget. Mr. Kirby promised to fulfill the department’s obligations without running the budget through the roof. Though, he did say that there is a time in the near future when the department will need a bigger budget. Also, Mr. Kirby would like to add more personnel and funds to deal with the drug problem. Mr. Whittenbarger said that the department needs to be frugal and cut spending, but will need a bigger budget to accommodate building a new jail. Mr. Scearce wants to rearrange current funding and responsibilities so that he can have extra eyes on the roads
Forum moderators asked the candidates how they would work with other agencies to facilitate cooperation. Mr. Scearce said that as Chief of Police in Blue Ridge, he has never had a problem with other agencies. He looked at his fellow candidates and said we are a brotherhood of police. The candidates that followed him took up the idea of brotherhood of police. Jack Taylor’s idea is to hold monthly communication meetings with representatives from the different precincts in Fannin. Larry Bennett said that his experience and humbleness will strengthen communication. Mr. Kirby said that he has already done a lot of work to facilitate communication and that there was never a time that another agency was turned down. Mr. Whittenbarger said that unity has never happened in Fannin County law enforcement and that he can bring about unity.
Candidates Jack Taylor and Johnny Scearce see that the drug epidemic in Fannin needs two avenues to solution: one avenue that deals with the criminal activity associated with drug dealing; and a second avenue that sees addiction as a personal obstacle which the Sheriff’s Department can help addicts and their families progressively solve. Mr. Taylor’s knowledge comes from his personal experience of dealing with a child who is an addict. Watching his child in mire himself in bad decisions has given him the strongest anti-drug criminality agenda of the candidates and has taught him that he has to hit at the drug problem from all angles. Mr. Scearce believes in a pro-active solution that helps people deal with their problems rather than destroy homes. Mr. Kirby would like to add personnel to open up more time for narcotics investigations.
Four of the candidates gave similar answers about how they want to deal with the public and employees within the department. Mr. Bennett says his Christian belief molds his desire to treat the public with compassion, respect and fairness. Mr. Sceare wants to bring integrity, honesty and fairness into the office and dispense the law equally, fairly and justly. Mr. Whittenbarger will use a board of citizens and officers to conduct exit interviews when Sherriff’s Department employees leave their job so that the former employees can speak frankly. Mr. Taylor wants to see people treated fairly and not with differences. Mr. Kirby didn’t speak as plainly about the temperament qualities he will call upon when dealing with the public.
Individual candidates did have a specific agenda items they would put in place. Incumbent Dane Kirby spoke about his continuing to maintain a professionally run office where officers are held to a higher standard. Mr. Kirby will also continue to provide professional training to officers and law enforcement education for the general public. Mr. Bennett will bring changes in attitude and actions. Mr. Scearce wants to increase eyes on the ground through patrols and develop an office that can accommodate needs of a tourist area, which last year had 18 different events that drew major crowds. Mr. Taylor will hunt down people involved in the drug trade and throw them in jail. Mr. Whittenbarger will make sure Sherriff’s Office programs are distributed equally throughout all constituency groups.
FetchYourNews is compiling voters’ questions to the candidates. If you have any questions for Mr. Davis, Mr. Farmer or Mr. Galloway, submit them in the comments section at the end of the Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide. Please don’t include editorial statements in the question. FetchYourNews will be asking candidates these questions in interviews throughout the campaign season.
See Related Posts: Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide: Names, Faces and Candidate Information
Scroll down to watch video of the forum.
Fannin County Chamber of Commerce 2016 Primary Candidate Forum.
Cynthia Panter, Chairman Fannin County Chamber Board.
Rob Kaser, Co-Moderator
Fannin County Magistrate Judge
Sherri Walker (I) NP
Dannette Davis NP
Brian D. Jones NP
Fannin County School Board
Jeremy Davis R
Clarence Junior Farmer R
Chad Galloway R
Fannin County Tax Commissioner
Shirley Sosebee (I) R
Marie Woody R
Georgia House of Representatives District 7
Speaker David Ralston (I) R
Sam Snider R
Georgia Senate District 51
Senator Steve Gooch (I) R
Fannin County Commission Chairman
Bill Simonds (I) R
Stan Helton R
Fannin County Sheriff
Dane Kirby (I) R
Larry Bennett Sr. R
Johnny Scearce R
Jack Taylor R
Rusty Whittenbarger D
Religion column written by Larry Bennett
Can you imagine how overwhelmed the disciples must have been when Jesus gave them the great commission? Jesus’ parting words were, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (people groups)…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19).
For the most part, they were uneducated tradesmen. They were now being sent out to teach all the known world the things which Jesus had taught them. They weren’t trained or schooled teachers, but ordinary blue collar laborers. The sheer volume of what Jesus said and did during the 3 years they spent with him were overwhelming. John even wrote a few chapters later:
“And there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written
in detail I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books
which were written.” (John 21:25 NAS)
I’m sure they must have been thinking, ‘I wish I had taken better notes or asked more clarifying questions. How are we ever going to remember those things we have heard and seen?’
Jesus knew this question would come up so He told them earlier, “When the Spirit of truth comes He will bring to your remembrance everything I have told you.” (John 16) We know this happened because we can read about the ministry of Jesus and his disciples in the Gospels. Jesus’ words and deeds are accurately recorded by his disciples through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.(2 Timothy 3:16 )
The same Holy Spirit who brought the teachings and events of Jesus to the disciples memory, is the same Holy Spirit who brings to our mind the things we need to know and remember. That’s the reason it’s important to read and memorize the Word, as well as, read good books written by Spiritual men and women.
I have often thought, why has remembering the things I have learned been so difficult for me to retain? I have anxiously prayed for the Lord to help me remember what to say before a speaking engagement. Matter of fact, my wife has often said to me, “How do you remember your sermon and all those scriptures when you can’t even remember what I asked you to pickup at the grocery store?” I have to admit she has a point.
However, I am acutely aware of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit “will bring to remembrance” those things that have been stored in my mind. The Holy Spirit’s role in our life is one of the most amazing aspects of the Christian life. Over my lifetime I have taught, preached or counseled hundreds of times. Often I entered the event sensing a deep degree of inadequacy. Some of those events, I had no idea what I was going to say or how I was going to respond to a hurting person. But as I yielded myself to the Spirit’s control, the words and scriptures began to flow. Sometimes I would leave the speaking event or counseling session stunned and surprised at the words that came out of my mouth.
I could never take credit for the Spirit’s work. It was Him that brought those things to my memory. There is no explanation other than the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would bring to our remembrance the Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. It’s an example of the life of Jesus being manifest through us. It’s the Holy Spirit manifesting Jesus to those around us.
God is faithful to honor His word. He has promised to bring to our mind the things to say, just when we need it. However, there is an “if” at play here. The “if” is we must first put the truths in our mind. That’s why I like to have an annual Bible reading plan. Sometimes it’s to read the whole Bible through in a year, sometime it’s to read just the New Testament. Often I will select a devotional plan to come alongside my Bible reading. The point is to be intentional.
Do I remember every word I read, absolutely not. But I rely on God’s promise to bring to my mind those truths when I need them. But He can’t bring it to your present memory if the Word hasn’t been put there in the first place.
Don’t forget, what we have read in Scripture and been taught through teaching, preaching and reading good books is in our mind. We might not be able to locate it at will, but if we will be “Holy Spirit sensitive”, and be careful not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit by our unconfessed sin, then He will be sure to bring to your mind all those truths that will become salt and light to a needy soul.
Religion column written by Larry Bennett
“So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9 NLT)
The context of the book of Hebrews has to do with convincing the unbelieving Jews of the superiority of Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that they hold dear. Jesus is better than Angels, Moses, and the Law because He is the fulfillment of all of those things. So the writer of the book is admonishing them to not harden their heart in unbelief like their ancestors, but enter into the rest that salvation can give them.
This message of rest is also for us today. Because of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross we can enter into a Spiritual rest for salvation.
This rest not only applies to salvation, but also to everyday life. Our salvation is so complete that it not only deals with our eternal destiny, but it can offer us rest in the midst of every problem. The same rest that is available for the salvation of our souls is also available for every challenge of life.
Learning how to rest is an important element of victorious living. Saying, “I’m resting” is not some spiritual incantation that enters us into the resting mode, but rather it’s a lifestyle based on absolute truth. As the invitation in Hebrews states, “therefore be diligent to enter into that rest” (V 11). Entering into God’s rest is an exercise of the will, trusting in the authority of His Word.
It’s a deliberate acknowledgment that God is fully aware of your situation and He understands the severity, the timing and the gravity of your problem. In other words, resting is agreeing to allow God to “fix it” in His way, on His terms, and in His timing. Its the act of “casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)
When my daughter Leslie was a toddler she was a trusting soul. I would lift her up and put her on the kitchen counter. She would leap off the counter with enthusiasm into my arms. No matter how far I got from the counters edge she would leap with complete trust that I was going to catch her. After each jump she would say, “again,again”.
That’s how God wants us to experience Him. He wants us to take the leap of faith and learn torest in Him, again and again. He will, without fail, catch us when we take the leap of faith and give all our anxiety to Him.
There is a song written in 1920 by a Englishman named Edward Henry Joy called “All our Anxiety”. I believe the song echoes the message of rest in Hebrews 4.
Is there a heart bound by sorrow?
Is there a life weighed down by care?
Come to the cross each burden bearing
All you anxiety leave it there
All our anxiety all our care
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there.
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus”.
Religion article written by Larry Bennett:
Throughout the Scripture Jesus continually reminds his disciples to be courageous in approaching whatever they may face in life. Was he attempting to pump up the troops to help them accomplish their goals in life or was there something deeper he was conveying?
I think there was a deeper, life changing truth he was trying to instill in his disciples. Jesus was teaching the simple truth of trust. He desires that all of his children would live in the light of absolute dependence upon Him. Trusting in His finished work of the cross for our salvation is just the beginning of our trust journey.
If I could use one word to describe a “super believer” it would be the word TRUST. The ultimate attribute and quality of a follower of Jesus is our ability to fully trust him with every event, situation and aspect of our life. The Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart (our mind, will and emotions) and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.“ (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Whatever comes our way we are to give it to the Lord and trust Him to work it all out for our good and His glory. When we stress out over a situation we are choosing to withhold our heart from Him. We are choosing to not trust Jesus and our Heavenly Father. How is it that in stressful situations we often forget that God is already fully aware of our situation, and knows the severity of our circumstance? God is never surprised at what happens to us, matter of fact, he knows in advance. That means that every situation is a test of our willingness and ability to fully trust in Him.
That reminds me of a phrase I heard an evangelist give over thirty years ago regarding how God is never surprised at what happens to us. He said, “Has it every occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?” It would be good for us to ponder that statement.
He wants our natural reflex to be that we immediately trust Him. We already have a head knowledge that God is bigger than any situation, but he wants us to move that trust from our head to our heart.
My challenge to you for 2016 is to set a goal to ‘up your level of trust’ . When you get stressed -out about a situation, give it to God, and practice trusting Him to see you through. Then begin to see every trial as a divine test by the heavenly Father to ‘up your level of trust’.
When something occurs that gets you stressed, worried, or out of control, remember this quote, “Don’t be guilty of mistaking the middle of the chapter for the end of your story.” (Jake Colsen)
I don’t know about you, but I like “measurables”. In other words, I like indicators that tell me how I am doing in a certain areas of my life. I am not talking about legalism that’s based on a performance base acceptance model. I am referring to matters of the heart. Indicators that your heart is maturing and conforming to a Christ likeness.
Spiritual maturity is not about “what you do for God”, but it’s about how much your heart (your mind, will and emotions) is conforming to the character of Christ. When we are allowing Christ to be our life then we will automatically move toward spiritual maturity.
However, maturity is not just a subjective thing, there are some measurables that serve as our spiritual barometer. Listed below are a few signs or indicators that we are moving toward maturity.
1. You are maturing when you acknowledge that your life is not your own. The Scripture tells us that “…and you are not your own, for you have been bought with a price.” ( 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This requires an intentional act of the will where you put your life in God’s hands and desire to be fully obedient to God’s plan, wherever that may lead. It is taking your dreams, plans and goals and present circumstances and placing them in God’s hand. It’s admitting that you can’t do life successfully unless God leads and directs your life.
2. You are maturing when you realize you don’t have to respond when challenged. This is a major indicator of maturity and it’s probably one of the most difficult things to grasp. It was difficult for me for several reasons. First, I had the need to be right, especially if someone challenged me. I just couldn’t let it go. I guess it was tied to my need to be validated. However, when I understood that abandonment to the supremacy of Christ involved surrendering rights and expectations then my need to “be right” diminished.
Secondly, being right gave me a sense of worth. When I discovered that my security is in “who I am in Christ” and not in “proving that I was “right”, then I was able to let those challenges go. It didn’t matter anymore, because I no longer had to validate my worth by proving I was right. My worth and acceptance was based solely on “who I am in Christ”, His life is enough.
3. You are maturing when you realize that every difficulty is God’s way of breaking us.Every mature believer will point to difficult times and/or encounters with difficult people as a time of spiritual growth. In God’s economy of things, brokenness moments and events are God’s method of maturing us. Maturity is seldom a result of mountain top experiences, but rather a compilation of valley experiences.
“Every person who crosses us, every person who discourages us is God’s way of breaking us. It creates a deeper channel in us for the life of Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life, never our life. Our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His. We can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared to bring our life constantly to death.” ( Quote from Roy Hession)
Spiritual maturity is not about performance, but about the level of our submission and obedience to the Lord. God never intended for our relationship with Him to be based on our self-effort. That’s the reason that the Scripture tells us “that we are made complete in Him.” (Colossians 2).
I wish I had a dollar for every counselee who said to me that they just wanted to be happy. I would have quiet a nest-egg. I don’t mean to seem critical of someone desiring to feel happiness about their life. Everyone wants to be happy. But the primary need of every believer is not to strive for happiness but to surrender their life to the will of the Father in order to realize inner peace.
If you’re like me, there are times when you feel like your prayers are falling on deaf ears. Your theology tells you that God always hears our prayers, but you feel as if they were not getting any higher than the ceiling. (more…)
I was recently reading the familiar story of how Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. After nine life altering plagues Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He refused to acknowledge and submit to the one and only true God. (more…)
What does it mean to recognize and acknowledge Jesus as ‘Lord and King’? (more…)
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Can we comprehend how much God is committed to us? Maybe not, but we can begin to better understand his ways when we function at the level of trust that the above verse presumes.
Growing up in church I was taught that the biggest problem in my life was going to be the devil. We were taught to believe that every time we sinned the devil had something to do with it. As comedian Flip Wilson use to say, “The devil made me do it.” It wasn’t till I learned about my identity in Christ that I realized it wasn’t the devil at all. My sin was directly related to the willful, fleshly choices that I made. (more…)