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ELECTION PREVIEW: Summers County Sheriff

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SUMMERS COUNTY (WVVA) -- With the incumbent not seeking re-election, there's a new Sheriff coming to Summers County.

Justin Faris and Jerry Wheeler are on the ballot. We asked both candidates what they feel are the top issues in Summers County.

For Faris, there's a lack of proactive policing and room for improvement with police/community relations - but it's the drug problem that tops his list.

"I have four years undercover drug task force experience," Faris said. "I've been in drug dealer's houses, I've been in cars with them, I've heard them talk about how they run their organizations - things they look out for to detect police."

As for proactive policing, Faris said it's an easy fix.

"All you've got to do is motivate the guys," he said. "Be like, 'Hey, you need to ride in this area today.' Not really micromanage, but just make sure they're out in those areas."

To address the lack of community/police relations, Faris plans to implement a program that connects officers with kids in the area, similar to the Police Explorer's Program he is involved with in Princeton.

Wheeler said domestic violence and driving under the influence are major issues in Summers County, but he agrees with his opponent: the drug problem tops his list of concerns.

He said his experience would help solve the problem.

"I'd say overall with my education - one, working the road as an officer and fighting drugs that way. I've also had the privilege to work our K-9 in Summers County, which indicated on drug odors," Wheeler said. "Also by aiding and assisting other departments on controlled buys with drugs."

"Domestic violence, combating it - it's not going to be easy, but I want to reach out, try to get some other resource centers in the area," he said. "Maybe reach out to the REACH program, the Women's Resource Center and just fund the victims the help they need."

Wheeler said he hopes to address the DUI issue using information he's learned in controlled substance classes.

Both candidates have law enforcement experience, but we asked what sets them apart from their opponent.

"My experience," Faris said. "I mean, I've got 13 years of law enforcement experience. I've seen and did a lot. I've arrested more people, more drug dealers - felony drug dealers - in one day than he has in his entire career."

"I'll say one huge thing that sets me apart from him would be that I know the county," Wheeler said. "I know all the roads, I know several people - I know who I'm dealing with."

Voters in Summers County choose their new sheriff on Election Day - November 3rd.

Click here for more Election previews.

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Hannah Howard

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