Three Challengers take On 20 Year Incumbent St Tammany Sheriff - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Three Challengers take On 20 Year Incumbent St Tammany Sheriff

(Source: STPSO) (Source: STPSO)

Challengers in the race to unseat the longtime sheriff of St Tammany parish say they can do it better, and cheaper. But the incumbent says he makes no apologies for the way he's run his office for nearly 20 years.

Sheriff Jack Strain has been in office since 1995 and as he runs for a sixth term the incumbent sheriff is under scrutiny. 

"There's a lot of wasteful spending," said challenger and Slidell police chief Randy Smith.

"We got a helicopter we don't need," said challenger Scott Illing. 

"A helicopter is a waste of money unless its your son or daughter floating in the lake," responded incumbent Sheriff Jack Strain.

All four candidates in the St Tammany sheriff's race,  have backgrounds in law enforcement, or the military, and all say they are qualified to serve as the next sheriff.

"I was approaching retirement in homeland security, and  I looked at the race, and said I'm not comfortable with either of the candidates running," said Illing.

"I have 23 years of experience in the navy, administrative, leadership wise," said challenger Jennifer Werther. 

The current sheriff and one of his challengers are already sworn to serve and believe their records fighting crime speak for themselves. 

"We are at a 10 year low, but it's the men and women who put their lives on the line," Smith said. 

"Look at our record of 19 years of cutting crime in half, even as our parish has expanded by 50%," Strain said. 

With the conviction of a former parish coroner and the indictment of a former District Attorney, corruption is center stage in the parish. 

"Across the parish there have been corruption problems, and people being in the office forever," Werther said. 

"That's unfortunate, the people in this parish know we're all individuals, hold us responsible for our failures and successes," said Strain, who bristles at efforts to try and link him to the corruption problem. 

Though the incumbent sheriff and the police chief in Slidell do have built in voter bases, the newcomers in the race believe voters may be ready for a change. 

"One of the things I want to do is lower my salary by $100,000," Werther said. 

Two of the  challengers say if elected, they won't  serve indefinitely. 

"When I'm elected I will serve 8 years, and let someone else have it," Smith said. 

"If I'm elected I will go with one or two terms that's it," Illing said. 

The voters decide two weeks from this Saturday.

Early voting for the Oct. 24 election starts Saturday.

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