Editor’s note: These candidates are in no particular order.
The following information is what we could find from those we interviewed along with records searches. We also asked those in the law enforcement community what they thought of the candidates. Those people remained anonymous due to the possibility they may have to work with any of the candidates who might get elected.
Quentin Miller would not return the Tribune/Leaders phone calls or emails, but this is what we could find out. Miller has been endorsed by Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Resigner, former Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick, former North Carolina Democratic Chairwoman and former Buncombe County Commissioner Patsy Keever, current Asheville City Councilman Keith Young, and the majority of the local LGBT community.
According to campaign Finance reports Miller has raised $9,320.63. He currently has $500 cash on hand. Miller has a strong grassroots backing and a large number of volunteers. Of 10 police officers the Tribune/Leader spoke to, eight had an unfavorable review of Miller.
Miller is from Asheville and is currently a sergeant with the Asheville Police Department where he has been a sergeant since 1994. Miller is a United States Army Veteran and was stationed in Fort Bragg NC. As an Asheville officer he received an award of Officer of the Year after initiating a Street Ministry and midnight basketball program for at-risk youth. Miller ran a job training program for the unemployed and ran a summer camp for at-risk youth for approximately 10 years.
Miller states he believes in President Obama’s 21st century policing plan and wants to “de-escalate” policing. Miller and his wife Karen have a foster care home and have fostered more than 100 children since 2005.
The Tribune/Leader received leads criticizing the Millers foster care of abuse and neglect of children under their care. The Tribune/Leader could not find any evidence of credibility and could not find any court documents stating such. The Tribune/Leader could not find any arrests, money owed to someone, or unpaid taxes regarding Miller.
Guns – Believes in the 1994 assault weapons ban. Will use his position as sheriff to tighten limits on gun rights.
Illegal Immigration – Will not work with the 287-G program. Endorsements and statements Miller has received or made suggest Miller will push for a sanctuary county for illegal immigrants.
Drugs – Wants to treat the opioid epidemic as a disease and issue treatment. Does not believe in arresting drug users.
Schools – N/A
Rondell Lance is the President of the Fraternal Order of Police and is well-liked by the 10 police officers the Tribune/Leader spoke with.
According to campaign finance reports Lance has spent $9,412.41 and currently has $249 on hand. Lance tells the Tribune/Leader he has been campaigning door-to-door and business-to-business for the past year and it seems to be paying off. He says he is rapidly gaining attention at political forums, and he hasn’t spent that much money compared to others.
Lance says he is quickly gaining momentum among church congregations. His father was a Baptist minister and very well-known. Lance was born in Buncombe County and graduated from Enka High School. He attended Cecil’s Business College and in 1988 began Basic Law Enforcement training at AB Tech.
Lance has more than 26 years of law enforcement experience. Lance served six years as a vice detective, three years as a drug agent with the Metropolitan Enforcement Group where he was also sworn as a deputy sheriff giving him county wide jurisdiction. Lance was promoted to sergeant and worked downtown on the bike team as well as district cover sergeant and field training sergeant. Lance also served on the Crisis Negotiation Team and was selected as commander of the team where he served until he retired.
Lance became the local Fraternal Order of Police president and has maintained the position for the past 20 years. Lance said, “I love young people and I believe in building relationships between young people and law enforcement.”
The Tribune/Leader could not find any court documents of Lance owing money, arrests, or taxes not paid. Lance said, “I don’t believe in politics in the Sheriff’s Department. I don’t believe a sheriff should campaign for other people. The sheriff’s department is not for a political party. It is for all the people of Buncombe County.”
GUNS – Believes in the Second Amendment, the NC Constitution, and the US Constitution. Lance said, “We have thousands of people that live in rule areas of the county and I believe they have the right to protect themselves.”
Illegal Immigration – Has spoken with and believes the Hispanic community does not want MS13 and sever criminals in their communities. Will work with those communities to remove severe criminals.
Drugs – Believes not enough is being done when citizens call the Sheriff’s Department about drug activity in their neighborhood. – Will investigate all complaints of neighborhood activity thoroughly with results. – Drug addicts that come into the Detention Facility will leave with programs that help them get off drugs. – Will work with legislators and doctors to help make laws that combat the opioid addiction.
Schools – Believes everyone should enter a school through one entryway and go through a metal detector. Wants a close relationship between students and SRO’s. Evaluate everybody coming in. Says, “Commissioners and city council have security. Our kids should have that to.”
Randy Smart is the only Sheriff candidate who has the endorsement of current Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan.
According to campaign finance reports Smart has raised over $25,000 and he is spending it in production video commercials and signage. Smart seems to have a strong grassroots support.
Smart is a native of Buncombe County and attended Clyde A. Erwin High School. Smart served eight years in the North Carolina National Guard as a military policeman. He worked in the manufacturing industry as a salesman, but says he was drawn back to law enforcement. Smart said, “It’s a passion I have always had because I enjoy helping our community”.
Smart was hired by former Buncombe County Sheriff Charlie Long and has worked for the sheriff’s office for the past 24 years. Of the 10 sheriff deputies the Tribune/Leader spoke with, all have a favorable attitude towards Smart.
The Tribune/Leader received a number of anonymous leads about Smart that might have cast a blight on Smart’s record, but none were found to be credible. The Tribune/Leader could not find any court documents of money owed, past due taxes, or arrests regarding Smart.
Smart said, “I love the Sheriffs department and have always been excited about being a part of it. I have worked for 25 years as a deputy for the citizens and enjoy every minute of it. Under my administration there will be no lapse of service to the citizens of Buncombe County.”
Gun Rights – Believes in mental health evaluations – Believes a sheriff is accountable to the Constitution of the state and the US Constitution.
Illegal Immigration – Will not work with the 287-G program to deport illegal immigrants. Says, “All that does is deputize deputies to be ICE agents.” Will arrest anyone engaged in criminal activity.
Drugs – Believes in second degree murder charges for drug dealers if someone dies from illegal drugs sold. Says, “That sends a hard message to drug dealers and we just charged a drug dealer with second-degree murder this week.” Believes in drug busts of higher dealers.
Schools – Believes in strong security at schools. Wants students to be comfortable with speaking with SRO’s and connect with them. Believes external threat and internal threats. Wants visitors vetted outside before entering school.
Daryl Fisher is from Waynesville NC and is currently a law enforcement instructor at AB Tech. Fisher made national headlines for controversial statements regarding gun rights. The statement which stemmed from a joke seemed to indicate that he would pry the guns away from the cold dead hands of gun owners. He later apologized for his statements.
According to Campaign Finance reports Daryl Fisher has raised $9,441 of which he has spent it all. Fisher has a strong grassroots following as the socialist wing of the Buncombe County Democrat Party is supporting him. Fisher has spent most of his money on signage. Fisher’s largest endorsement is by former Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell, a self-proclaimed atheist and socialist.
The Tribune/Leader could not find any arrests, money owed, or unpaid taxes regarding Daryl Fisher. Of 10 police officers the Tribune/Leader spoke with only two had a favorable position about Daryl Fisher.
Fisher’s professional career consists of working at the Asheville Police Department including assignments as a Patrol Officer, SWAT Team member, Criminal Investigations Detective, Drug Task Force Agent, Patrol Sergeant, Criminal Investigations Major Case Sergeant, Drug Suppression Unit Lieutenant, SWAT Team Commander, Support Division Captain and Patrol Division Captain.
Guns – Interprets the Second Amendment differently than the Supreme Court. Wants stricter gun laws.
Immigration – Will not work with the 287-G program.
Drugs – Wants to educate school kids about the dangers of drugs. Believes repetition is what gets the message across. Wants Sheriff’s Department to partner with treatment centers. Will vigorously investigate drug dealers.
Schools – N/A
Chris Winslow is from Buncombe County and has been in law enforcement since 1985. He says he is, “a leader” and has been a leader in the military, law enforcement, and as a volunteer firefighter.
Asked if he has any endorsements Winslow said, “I don’t believe in revealing people who endorse me.”
According to campaign Finance reports Chris Winslow has raised $16,439.37 with $2,371.13 on hand. Asked if Jeff Penley, a well-known political consultant, was helping with his campaign? Winslow said, “Yes, as an adviser.”
Chris Winslow is a volunteer fireman and out of 12 fireman the Tribune/Leader spoke with all 12 had a favorable reaction. Out of 10 police officers five had a favorable reaction toward Mr. Winslow and five did not. The Tribune/Leader could not find any arrests, money owed, or unpaid taxes by Mr Winslow.
Winslow said, “I have 10 years of narcotics experience and I am the only candidate that has bought narcotics straight from drug dealers over 200 times. I carried the highest arrest rate while working break-ins. I worked with many federal and local agencies understanding the importance of teamwork. I have almost 30 years’ experience, received my Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate.”
Guns – Believes in the US constitution and the Second Amendment.
Illegal immigration – Believes illegals deserve same service as legals. Will not work with the 287g program – Say’s “Will arrest any criminal breaking the law.”
Drugs – Wants an effective drug unit. Believes epidemic is because of leadership problems in the current Sheriffs Dept. – Wants PAARI Program that helps addicts.
Schools – Wants a grant to put cameras in schools (common areas, halls, and stairways) with a LIVE feed to 911 and school board. Believes SRO’s need to be trained on active school shooting drills twice a year.