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Incumbent Bartley faces Corbett, Langford for Democratic nod in sheriff's race

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By Jimmie Earls

Jim Crouch is a wanted man. The Republican candidate for Washington County Sheriff has three Democrats fighting for a chance to go one-on-one with him in the Nov. 2 general election. But before he knows who will be his opponent this fall, the three Democrats must see who wins the battle of the ballot in the May 18 primary.

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Democratic incumbent Tommy Bartley has 17 years of law enforcement experience, starting as deputy in 1992 under then-sheriff Donnie Barr. Bartley was later elected sheriff in 1998. The 62-year-old is currently seeking his fourth term. With two opponents lined up for the May 18 primary election and a Republican candidate looming in November, Bartley hopes the voters of Washington County will look at what he calls a proven track record and continued service to the community.

“I have 17 years on the job, and I have plenty of experience with over 600 hours of training through the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training in Richmond,” said Bartley. “I am required to have 40 hours in-service each year, and I received my professional standard certification as a peace officer.”

The sheriff’s department currently has a staff of five, which include Bartley and his four deputies – Jackie Robinson, Melissa Knopp, Bill Hill and Sue Mudd. Bartley said he plans to hire a new deputy after the primary race.

“I want the people of Washington County to know that the county is being covered seven days a week,” he added. “I have four deputies right now, and plan to hire a fifth soon. Hopefully, with additional funding, I will be able to hire additional deputies. I am not going to make promises that I cannot fulfill, but I want to make sure the needs of the county are being met.”

One topic on the minds of voters this election season is the issue of two former Washington County deputies who were arrested last year on drug-trafficking charges. Bartley wants to reassure the public that he was as surprised by their actions as anyone else.

“I would like to apologize to the people of Washington County for the actions of those two deputies,” he said. “When I heard the news, the deputies were terminated. Their actions hurt not only the county and this office, but it hurt me. I know some in the county think that I was aware of what was going on and maybe even involved, but I assure them that I wasn’t.”

Bartley is a native of Washington County and graduated from Fredericktown High School in 1966. After school, he went to work farming and helped raise seven sons and one daughter – Tommy III, Brian, Crystal, Kevin, Travis, Todd, Brandon and Jordan. He also has 10 grandchildren.

“With the exception of Todd, they all live and work in Washington County,” added Bartley. “They have all been very active in my re-election campaign.”

When it comes to the question of why voters in Washington County should re-elect him, Bartley said, “I have been a fair and honest sheriff, working with the people to resolve any problem they may have. I want the people of Washington County to be able to come to my office, sit down and discuss any needs that they may have. Being a sheriff for the past 17 years, I have learned to handle every situation in different ways. I have learned to use common sense and not to go by the book all the time. Sometimes there are situations where you have to. I have a plaque in my office which says, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’ Due to my schedule and being on call, I can’t see everyone in the county as I would like to, and I apologize for that. I would greatly appreciate your vote on May 18.”

Alan Corbett

The first challenger to Bartley in the Democratic primary is Alan Corbett, a 21-year law enforcement veteran. Corbett said the sheriff’s department needs to regain the public trust and provide a higher standard of service to the community.

“I want to get service back to the people,” said Corbett. “I want to make sure that there is somebody who is always available when someone calls for assistance. It’s not a 9-to-5 job, as with any police job, that’s just the way it goes. I know budgets are tight, but we can make out a schedule to have somebody always on call. We need to build trust in the community, especially with the kids. We need to reach out to the schools and show kids that the police are not the bad guys. They shouldn’t be scared of the police, we are there to help. I’d also like to form a mentoring program with the criminal justice program with St. Catharine College. The perception that people have about the police around here needs to be changed for the better. I don’t think being a law enforcement officer should be a political job. You can’t show favoritism. Everybody has to be treated equally, no matter who they are. ”

Corbett, a native of Springfield, grew up in Marion County where he graduated high school and worked a few jobs in the general sector before being accepted to and graduating from the Kentucky State Police Academy in 1988. Corbett began his KSP career with the Frankfort post until he was transferred to Columbia Post 15, primarily serving Marion and Washington counties for the next 20 years. During that time, he achieved the rank of detective with KSP Drug Enforcement Special Investigations and worked as a deputy task force officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

While the state requires all sworn law enforcement officers to undergo Police Officer Professional Standards (POPS) training, sheriffs are not required to have any law enforcement training or experience prior to taking office. Corbett sees his professional law enforcement experience as a big asset.

“I received my training at the KSP academy, and that is one of the top academies in the nation,” he added. “Being a police officer is something that you can’t learn in just a few years, it’s a life-learning experience. You learn from day one until the day you stop. There are always new technologies coming along and you have to stay on top of things. But just going to the academy and then saying that you want to be sheriff, in my opinion, that’s not good enough. You need to have some time under your belt to know what you’re doing, how to read people and how to achieve more by talking instead of relying on your physical training. Being a policeman is a lifestyle, it’s not just a job. If people want things to get better, they have to vote for someone who is trained and knows what they are doing. The sheriff is the only police officer in Kentucky who does not have to be certified or go through an academy. Our current sheriff has never been through an academy. If sheriffs want to get training through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund, they have to go through 40 hours of service training every year.”

Corbett has two grown children – a son, Jamie, who lives in Lexington, and one daughter, Nickie Sidebottom, who lives in Marion County with her husband Derek. This past January, Nickie gave birth to Corbett’s first granddaughter, Raini. He moved back to Springfield in 2002. He said as Washington County Sheriff, he would be able to live in and serve his local community.

“This is a chance for me to do something that I have always truly loved, and can finally be involved in a community,” said Corbett. “Before, I was here and there, coming and going constantly. I was never really able to settle down in one spot. Personally, I would, along with all of my deputies, like to be involved in the community.”

Brad Langford

Also seeking the Democratic sheriff spot for November is Brad Langford, a lifelong dairy farmer who spent six years in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of sergeant (E5). Now he’s hoping to use his military training in the role of Washington County Sheriff.

“This is where I live, it’s my home,” said Langford. “I have a wife, and we have three kids in school. I served my country and now I want to serve my county. I was in the Marines for six years and I was with the artillery, infantry and communications. Of course, you don’t have to have law enforcement training to run for sheriff, it’s not a requirement. But in the Marines, I did a lot of security work and guard duty. I was responsible for men and equipment, and delegating authority.”

Langford has been dairy farming for 21 years. Before that, he worked a few odd jobs before milking cows.

“My first job was at the Snappy Grill when I was in the seventh grade, and I worked there until I got my drivers license. At that point, I went to work for Pat Clements,” he added. “My dad had a farm and my mom taught school for 32 years. After the Marines, my dad asked me what I planned to do, and he said I could come back and milk, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Langford, a native of Springfield and a 1981 graduate of Washington County high School, will be married to his wife Nikki for 15 years in June. They have three sons – Spencer, 11, Patrick, 9 and Ben, 7.

When asked what he would bring to the table as sheriff, Langford replied, “From my point of view, I just want to treat people the way that I would want to be treated. I want to be honest and respectful to people. I just thought I might make a difference.”

If he were to win the primary and then be elected in November, he doesn’t see immediate changes in the department to take place. He plans to add current Springfield police officer Troy Logsdon and Joe B. Yates as deputies if he were elected.

“I’m not going to go in there with a broom and clean the whole place out,” he added. “Any restructuring would be done slowly. Change is going to happen, so would you rather see it coming or have it kick you in the butt? The force is small and this is a pretty big county. You have to put your trust in people. Of course you want more deputies, but you have to stay within your budget. I know Troy and Joe B., and I know some of the current deputies. Trust is built up over time, it’s earned.”

Langford would like to see more people his age get out and vote. He hopes Democrats across Washington County will go to the polls on May 18 and vote for him.

“I’m honest, very reliable and I have a strong work ethic,” he said. “I guess you could say that you can count on me. If you need me, I’ll get to you. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the county, and very few of them have brought up law enforcement. They just want to know, ‘If I call you, will you come?’ I’ve heard that a lot. I’m local and I have a lot of local knowledge. I’ve been in uniform and I know how you are supposed to carry yourself. I have a family and business here, so I have an interest in serving and protecting the citizens of Washington County. I hope people will vote for me. I would greatly appreciate it. It’s like going to the stockyard and picking out a baby calf. Sometimes the scroungy one turns out to best the best one.”

Democrats in Washington County will make their decision known when they head to the polls this Tuesday. Look for full primary election results in the May 19 issue of The Springfield Sun.