It’s a time for celebration for many candidates, their families and their supporters. Some of the races were bitter and some were congenial. There are some hard feelings and some high hopes.
But there’s one thing all of us can agree on — Praise God that we will not be subjected to the barrage of TV commercials, pop-ups, Facebook fights and, for us newspaper folks, campaign propaganda disguised as “press releases” overwhelming the inbox.
There really is more that unites us than divides us, but too many people dwell on the latter and blow it out of proportion. Politicians can’t be perfect. And it’s during those times that they’re not we will find out what kind of resolve and character they possess.
Every person who puts his or her name on a ballot has earned a certain level of respect. It takes courage to put yourself out there and to try to make a difference. Think about how you have felt when you really wanted a job but didn’t get it after filling out an application and perhaps going through an interview. Sure, it’s disappointing, but in most cases, you’re just out of a couple hours and few dollars of gas, tops.
Many of these candidates have been “interviewing” for almost a year, going to every local event they can, shaking hands with people, listening to concerns and complaints of people who are terminally discontent, missing family gatherings, sitting through countless speeches and sermons, eating bad chicken dinners, subjecting their lives and their family’s lives to petty scrutiny … and spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the “privilege” of just attempting to serve.
After so many months of focusing on the sheriff’s race and bringing change to that office, newly elected Sheriff Joe Berlin will be the change that almost 60 percent of all Jones County voters showed that they wanted this year. He and his supporters were celebrating his win into the night on Tuesday, and we applaud his victory and his selection of fellow LPD Sgt. Mitch Sumrall as his chief deputy. Both of these men are examples of what law enforcement officials should be — friendly, approachable, good-natured fellows who can take care of business if the need arises.
Berlin has a mandate going into office and will instantly change the relationship of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department with other local agencies. With that mandate comes tremendous responsibility as he goes to work in January with a Board of Supervisors that will have three new faces. A lot of local law enforcement officials have said that they wished they would have run, but they believed three-term incumbent Alex Hodge was invincible. Berlin and Macon Davis had the courage to take him on, as did Paul Sumrall, and Davis outpolled Hodge in the primary.
Those people who are kicking themselves will be watching and waiting, ready to make a run in 2023. If Berlin and Mitch Sumrall stay humble and run the department the right way — and handle things properly when things don’t go the right way — they’ll be fine.