Sheriff nominees plan futures in office

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Davis would cap service at age 80; Ruark hopes to retire from post

The two candidates for Barry County sheriff each have different plans regarding their futures if elected to the positions, with one likely capping his service at three terms and the other hoping to retire from the post.


Gary Davis, R-Cassville, a former FBI agent, said at 68 years old, his future as sheriff, if elected in November, will largely depend on how he feels his job performance is going by 2020.

"What I do will be more about if I'm doing a good job and if my health stays good," he said. "If I do two terms, I'd be 75 or 76, and that may be time for me to go. If I'm doing a good job and my health is good, I may go a third term. But, I would not want to be the past [the age of] 80. It would take a massive write-in campaign for that to happen.

"If I'm not doing a good job, people should vote me out, but I don't have that expectation, and I don't plan on doing a bad job."

Justin "Dave" Ruark, D-Cassville, a deputy at the Barry County Sheriff's Office, said if elected, his goal would be to retire from the sheriff position.

"My goal is to stay as long as the people allow me to continue working for them," he said. "I want it to be a lifetime career so I can make Barry County the best it can be.


"I'm 39, so I'd like to be able to retire as sheriff. As long as I am physically able to do the job, I want to be there doing it."

Davis said there are a number of factors that would dictate how he sees his job performance, the largest of which is responding to the needs of residents in Barry County.

"I've heard going around the county a lot of gripes about deputies coming out, taking a report and then the victim never hears anything," he said. "Like if it's a theft report, a lot of times they know they won't catch the guy, but they still want a follow-up report to know their report hasn't fallen into a dark hole. I've got some ideas in mind for that, but I'm keeping them to myself at the moment."

Davis said another key factor will be drug activity in the county.

"Am I going to totally cure it? No. No one will," he said. "I'm not a big D.A.R.E. fan, so we probably need a program of some kind in the schools, but then again, that comes down to manpower."

Ruark said there's an advantage to his plan of staying at the sheriff post, as people appreciate longevity.

"People will be more secure knowing who the sheriff is, what he stands for and that he does what he says, instead of every four years having a new person," he said. "I plan to make the public my first priority, and I do not make promises I can't keep. Making sure i keep everyone's trust is also important.

"Anyone who knows me knows if I say I'm going to do something, that's exactly what I do. So with that, when I say I'm going to focus on the drug problem, that's exactly what I'm going to do."

Davis said there are many smaller, administrative things that would affect success as well, such as procedures in the jail and smaller operations that could be improved.

"These are things the general public does not know are issues," he said. "If I can fix some of them, that will free up time for the employees to benefit the people of Barry County. I want to make a better sheriff's office that's more productive."

Along with addressing the drug problem, Ruark said he will aim to get more funding and be out in the field.

"I want to secure funds to meet all our needs and be out in the field doing work myself along with everyone else," he said.

Davis said if elected, he plans to take a week off and then go to the office to start getting acclimated. The election is Nov. 8, and the new sheriff will take office in January.

"It would still be [Sheriff] Mick [Epperly's] department, but I want to be there to learn as much as I can before taking over," he said. "There's a lot of [public relations] work that can be done, like meeting with other police chiefs and going to fire district meetings. I think my 37 years of experience will come in handy with all that."

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