Sgt. Joe Berlin said he will not participate in a forum Thursday evening because it is being held in a church sanctuary. (LL-C file photo)

Davis will be at Bethlehem Baptist


Joe Berlin will not attend a forum for candidates for Jones County sheriff, citing the fact that the political event was being hosted in a place of worship.

“I don’t feel comfortable with it being in a church,” Berlin said. “I just don’t think it’s right.”

Berlin, an Independent, initially agreed to participate in the forum with Republican candidate Macon Davis at Bethlehem Baptist Church tonight (Thursday), but didn’t realize it would be in the sanctuary, he said.

“I was burdened with it, so I prayed about it and talked to my pastor … and I decided not to participate,” Berlin said. “I don’t mean any disrespect.”

Davis said he will still attend the forum to answer questions from voters.

“I was asked to do it two weeks ago,” he said. “I made a commitment, and I’m going to honor that commitment.”

The forum is going to be in the sanctuary of the church so it can be livestreamed through the church’s Facebook page. 

“I don’t want to be a part of something in a church sanctuary that may get ugly,” Berlin said.

Berlin said he will be set up at a booth at the South Mississippi Fair to meet voters and that he participated in several meet-and-greets over the last several months, including one at the Myrick Community Center earlier this week.

Davis beat three-term incumbent Sheriff Alex Hodge in the Republican primary, taking 58 percent of the votes. He has 20-plus years of law enforcement experience, including stints in the Jones County Sheriff’s Department, the Laurel and Soso police departments and as a School Resource Officer at South Jones.

Berlin also has 20-plus years of experience and is currently a shift sergeant with the LPD. He has also worked for the Sandersville Police Department.

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