7 candidates, your choice for Barry County sheriff: Justin David Ruark, D-Cassville
Publisher's note: The following Q&As represent the candidates' views verbatim, as submitted via email in response to our questions, and have not been edited.
Current Occupation: Barry County Sheriffs Department
Past Experience: 6 years
Education: Missouri Sheriffs Association Training Academy, Reeds Spring, MO
1. Why do you want to be sheriff?
The reason I would like to be Sheriff of Barry County is I believe I can make a difference. There are problems facing this county which need to be addressed. I want focus on the drug problem in this county, Meth, Prescription pills, and other drugs are becoming more and more accessible and I want to change it. When I was a child growing up in this county there wasn't as many drugs going around as there is now. I know it will be hard to get rid of this problem but I know we can make it a lot better than it has become over the last few years. Being the Sheriff of this county would be an honor. I would dedicate myself to serving the citizens of Barry County to make this county the best it can be. I want to make this a safe place to raise children for everyone including my own. I have nothing but love for this county because it is my home. I am not seeking this position because of the title or just to be someone's boss. I want to be able to help people see the county for the good and share the things Barry County has to offer to all of the citizens.
2. What makes you more qualified for office than your opponents?
There is more to being qualified for this position than having degrees saying you can do it. One needs to be able to listen to the people, work with the people, and the desire to help the people. I would say having the people's trust is the biggest qualification for this position. I have worked with the people of this county for years doing whatever I was asked to do. I am honest, fair, hard working, and very determined. My father always told me, "Any job worth doing is worth doing right". I have lived by this and apply it in anything I do. I have lived in this county my entire life. I have lived in different towns but all here. Every job I have ever had has been in Barry County. I have raised and still raising my children here. So to answer the question, I have the ability to work with the people, help the people and the determination to make sure it is done right for the better of the county.
3. What changes do you plan to make in the sheriff's office?
I want to try and add to the patrol staff. I would like to add a narcotics officer to work with the Drug Task Force. I would like to get the equipment and software to make it possible for the deputies to be able to type their reports from the patrol car instead of having to go to the office to do them. I would like to make it possible to add more training for the deputies so they can do the job better and serve the citizens better.
4. What specific goals do you plan to accomplish in your first term?
I would say the number one goal I would like to get accomplished is to make it known to all that Barry County is tired the drugs going through the area. I want those who make, sell, or use drugs to know the Sheriff's Department is watching, we are gathering information, and yes we are coming to get you and get you out of here. With this goal in mind, the second part of this goal is to secure the funding needed to make this a reality. I would like to add at least two more positions for deputies, which means two equipped cars for them.
5. How will you increase funding for the sheriff's office?
It is no secret money is tight everywhere for everyone. I believe once we see where the money is needed and for what, I believe we can get the money. Some from applying for different grants, making the commissioners aware of what is needed and why we can get more funding.
6. What, specifically, will you do to reduce the drug problem in Barry County?
Barry County needs a Narcotics Officer full time. I also would like to add a K-9 to the staff and make it available 24 hours a day. I want to find a way to get the Drug Task Force to work in the are more even if it means changing who we are in partnership with currently. We should have someone working on tips which are received from the public every day. If there was a full time position for this I know it would be beneficial. Keep in mind this is not going to get fixed overnight. It is going to take hard work, dedication, time, and manpower do get this done, but it can be done!
7. What, if any, specific personal changes will you make in the sheriff's office? Why?
Starting off I see no need in making any changes. I have worked with everyone currently staffed with the department. Some changes may be needed later as in any job. The only thing I would like to see change is the addition of more deputies in the future.
8. What are your thoughts on body cameras? Is that something you will try to implement in the department? Why or why not?
I think body cameras are a great idea. Not one do they protect the officer it helps protect the public from the officer of any wrong doings. I have seen nothing but positive things come from those who wear them. Some of the municipalities in the county have them now and their officers wear them as part of their uniform. Yes this is something I would like to add to the departments equipment for the deputies to have. The reason why is for the safety of the public and for the officer, also they can prove to be good evidence in some cases.