Invitations were issued via email. Hunt declined to participate.
Following are Grudek's responses to CCN's questions.
For more information about each candidate and to view video of their speeches at a recent candidates' forum, visit http://www.carrollconews.com/story/19066....
QUESTION: What are some of your goals for your next term in office, if your are re-elected?
ANSWER: I'd like to really put more and more effort into fighting the abuse of prescription drugs because we've been doing well with the take-back program, and every time we have a take-back day, the amount of drugs we've collected grows. Also, we're beginning to see more buying of presription drugs in some of the drug busts we're making. So we really need to educate the kids and parents on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
I want to partner with Mercy Hospital in Berryville and put on educational classes for parents and teenagers on these dangers, and we are now working on a pamphlet for teens to take home to parents from their schools.
QUESTION: What is the biggest challenge or concern you believe a sheriff in Carroll County faces?
ANSWER: The biggest concern I have is the budget. I was surprised that our budget was recently cut by 10 percent in the county budgeting process. We have no money for training already (before the cuts). I'm concerned with the budget cuts and how that's going to affect us in what we're able to do for training.
We've been very proactive in improving our law enforcement and improving revenue for county. I don't want to get back into being only reactive and want to continue to be proactive in fighting crime and training, looking ahead to what's next so we can be prepared.
QUESTION: What do you enjoy most about being sheriff?
ANSWER: I have been in law enforcement for about 35 years, and the last six years as sheriff have been more rewarding than all my other years in law enforcement, mainly because immediately, you as sheriff become part of everyone's family in the county.
When you travel around the county, everyone knows you, and you quickly realize how important that position is to everyone. It makes me want to continue to do more so the Sheriff's Office is respected, so we are fair to everyone in county.
It's important that when I encounter people in the county, it's a nice encounter and people have positive feedback. Here, everyone is watching, and I really want to do a good job for the people of Carroll County.
QUESTION: What would you say the biggest challenges of running a jail and what needs to be improved there?
ANSWER: People need more training, but in our budgets we don't have the money for that training a lot of time. We have to use comp time to do it in addition to the cost of the training. It's hurting us.
The opportunity to interact with jailers from other counties is when they learn the most, discussing best practices and examples of things that have come up elsewhere. That's the biggest problem at the jail.
If you talk to any county the one thing most sheriffs want the most is to get rid of jail management, because you have career inmates, the potential for lawsuits, you're housing the mentally ill -- and all this is putting more and more pressure on the county in trying to deal with all these people and the associated costs. And jailers generally just have high school diplomas.
Dealing with inmates who are also drug addicts is dangerous; providing medical care for the inmates is complicated at best; it's just a lot of responsibility for jailers who get very little training. But the money is just not in the budget to do that. That is a concern for any sheriff who has to operate a jail.
QUESTION: What do you see as the fastest growing crime problem in our county?
ANSWER: One of the problems we are facing now is that when the State Legislature passed the jail reform act, because of overcrowding in state prisons, it was costing state a lot of money to pay counties to house state prisoners till the state found room in its prisons for them.
So the state released many nonviolent offenders, and to prevent them from re-filling the state prison system quickly, they reduced a lot of lower-grade felonies to misdemeanors.
So what has happened is they come back to the county jail after they go back to using drugs and stealing property and doing whatever they do -- only now it's all misdemeanors, and the countys' problem, not the state's.
After this reform, every county experienced an increase in theft of property reports, including us.
Another problem I'm most concerned about is that many of the drug abusers and sellers are switching to prescription drugs.
QUESTION: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as sheriff so far?
ANSWER: Again, being the sheriff is a completely different type of policing, and I think the lesson has been in recognizing the importance of the position to the people who elected you, and being accountable to those people, and keeping the people informed.
That's why I put together the quarterly report to the Quorum Court on the jail, the Sheriff's Office and dispatch.
I've also learned how important it is to keep the people of the county informed on our efforts to enforce the law, because a lot of people don't realize how few deputies we have patrolling 640 square miles in this county.
If we're ever going to convince the Quorum Court that we need additional deputies, we have to present them with the need first.
QUESTION: How do you feel about the medical marijuana initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot?
ANSWER: I'm concerned about the medical marijuana proposal and the enforcement of it. What concerns me is I don't want my grandkids to get on a school bus with a driver who has smoked marijuana, even if they have a medical card and legal permission to do so.
I am greatly concerned about the enforcement of this if it becomes law, because we have seen problems with the enforcement of it in other states that have passed the medical marijuana initiatives, such as Colorado and California. It's not unusual for medicinal marijuana products from those states to end up in Arkansas now, for example. Besides being difficult to enforce, there is always the issue of whether we will get the funds we need to enforce it properly.
It seems like there are always more rules to enforce and not enough funds for training or enforcement.