RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - Like many things in 2020, political forums have gone virtual.
Six candidates are vying to be the next Sheriff of Bryan County - six republicans and one democrat. Each candidate was given a set amount of time to introduce themselves before questions began.
"Thank all of those who are watching for your interest and your participation in this election process. This is a pretty important decision to Bryan County, and I hope that you would consider all of us and make your appropriate choice,” said Mike Fordham, (R) candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
This election is significant because the current sheriff, Clyde Smith has held the office for 26 years.
“My military career started in 1983, when I went in the Army Reserve. I went in, I enjoyed it, I learned much about myself, and much about discipline," said Doug Sahlberg, (R) candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
“I’m currently working for the Richmond Hill Police Department as a detective, and enjoying my work that I’m doing there," said Keith Welch, (R) candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
“My military career began in 1976, when I joined the United States Marine Corps. Upon graduating high school, I went to Parris Island, South Carolina- a lovely resort site there, and I began my law enforcement career in 1978," added Fordham.
Comments and reactions rolled in throughout the two hour forum, getting nearly 4,000 views.
“I began my career in law enforcement in ’97, but before that I began working in public service in Pembroke with the Bryan County-Pembroke Fire Department in 1986, when I was still in high school, moved over to EMS, then came over to law enforcement," said Mark D. Crowe, (R) candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
“I’m a former deputy of the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department in 1985 under Sheriff Harry Williamson, and a deputy under Sheriff Tim Page in 1987, and both of those times, I served both North Bryan and South Bryan," said Al Hagan, (D) candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
“I grew up in a small upstate New York town, graduated at the age of 18, and joined the Army. I was a member of the Elite 82nd Airborne Division. Once I left the Army, I became a demolition supervisor. Upon leaving that, I moved to the Savannah area and started a small business," said Mike Maxwell, (R) candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
Candidates were also asked about how they would deal with the opioid crisis, work with other officials, and what they thought they should change - they were given two minutes for a response.
“Six nervous sheriff’s candidates in the first virtual forum. Something I’ve never been involved in before, of course, but I think it went very well, and thank you so much to the chamber for putting this on," said Crowe said with a laugh.
Absentee ballot requests will continue to be accepted through June 5 and advance early voting is underway now. The primary election is June 9.
You can watch the full forum here: