Sheriff’s race heats up as filing begins

Published 9:16 am Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three Republican candidates for sheriff of Davie County joined other potential office holders as filing opened at noon Monday at the Davie County Board of Elections.

Mark Howell, J.D. Hartman and Mitch Whitener all filed for sheriff.

Also on hand as filing opened were board of commission candidates James Blakley and John Ferguson, clerk of court candidate Ellen Drechsler, and N.C. House candidate Julia Howard. N.C. Senate candidate Dan Barrett also filed.

Howell, 59, is semi-retired after a 39-year career in law enforcement. He has worked with the Davie and Rowan sheriff’s departments, including time as the chief deputy, and as a DMV inspector.

“I want to keep the people of this county as safe as possible with quality, well-trained officers,” Howell said. “I consider myself a public servant.”

Whitener, 49, is retiring soon from the N.C. Highway Patrol, where he serves as sergeant for Surry and Stokes counties. He spent five years in the Mt. Airy and Elkin police departments before joining the Highway Patrol.

“The big thing, I want to bring accountability, professionalism and transparency to the Davie County Sheriff’s Office through training, supervision and experience in law enforcement,” Whitener said. “I want to make this sheriff’s department better, and Davie County a safer place to live, work in and raise children.”

Hartman, 52, who was appointed as sheriff when Andy Stokes retired, has more than 28 years of experience in law enforcement, starting with the Wake Forest University campus police, and including stints with the Mocksville Police Department and Iredell County Sheriff’s office. He has been a patrol officer, worked in the jail, a patrol supervisor, detective, detective supervisor and chief deputy.

“I want to continue to move the sheriff’s office forward, making us the best we can be … and preparing us to serve Davie County citizens into the future,” Hartman said.

Drechsler, 59, is seeking her third term as Davie Clerk of Superior Court.

She’s proud of the progress the clerk’s office has made during her tenure, including cross training of employees, cleaning out old storage areas, implementing a text and email notification system, and adopting a calendar for staff and visitors. She’s also helped with courthouse renovations. She said she learns something new about the law or the office almost daily.

“We’ve done some pretty good things, and there are still some things I’d like to accomplish,” Drechsler said.

Blakley, 37, is seeking a Republican nomination for Davie County Commissioner. The owner of Blakley Landscaping Services, he said his priorities will be schools, business development and quality of life.

“I want to serve the county I grew up in,” Blakley said. “As an entreprenuer, I want to make this a better place.”

Ferguson, 79, is seeking his second term as a county commissioner.

“There are a lot of things that are not finished,” Ferguson said, citing water and sewer expansions, problems at the jail,  and infrastructure needs, “that have been ignored for far too long.”