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Election unseats county mayor, sheriffs

Claiborne citizens went to the polls in larger numbers than in past election years, netting the ousting of two men who held fundamental positions within local government. County mayor Jack Daniels and sheriff David Ray will be saying their goodbyes during the remainder of this month.

Meanwhile, two men carrying the same last name will be preparing to take on the challenges that will face them over the next four years. Sheriff-elect Bobby Brooks and county mayor-elect Joe Brooks will be sworn into office on Sept. 1.

The new sheriff in town will begin the task of putting his campaign promises where the rubber meets the road. One of those promises has to do with tightening school security. Bobby Brooks says he will be partnering with the school system to insure a safe environment for students and employees alike.

He also plans to make wise use of tax dollars and to be “transparent” in that utilization.

Apparently, Bobby Brooks means to maintain the existing Claiborne County Jail as mandated by the state. No expansion will likely occur during his watch. He also promises quicker response times to calls. No investigations or reports will be conducted via phone, he says.

He also promises to crack down on the introduction of drugs and other contraband inside the jail.

“Rehab should begin at the jail…without being an option,” he stated in his campaign advertising.

Bobby Brooks also plans to reform the jail trustee program by tightening security and insuring better supervision of the inmates while performing tasks outside the facility.

When asked to comment on his win, Bobby Brooks said he is “so thankful and humbled” to have been elected “your sheriff.”

“Most importantly, this is a win for the good people of Claiborne County,” said Brooks.

Ray says he is very pleased with the campaigns he and his opponent ran and that he appreciates the fact that both sides kept the race a “clean” one.

“This is probably the last time I will run for office. I’ve had a successful career in law enforcement. However, there are a few more things I would have liked to have accomplished as sheriff. The first concerns our school safety program, which is going to be very important for the next generation of children,” said Ray, who met over the last several months with school officials to flesh out tighter security.

The county recently adopted the new fiscal year budget that includes funds to hire and train nine additional School Resource Officers.

Ray says he would like to see the continuation of the war on illegal drugs as well.

“I am grateful and humbled by those who supported me during this campaign. I appreciate those who have been mentors to the young officers, over the last 12 years I have been sheriff,” said Ray.

According to the as of yet unofficial tally, Ray came away from the race with 1,963 votes. Brooks won the election with a total vote count of 6,311.

Ray conceded on election evening, around 9:20 p.m., just prior to the distribution of the final tally for all 16 precincts.

In the county mayor race, Joe Brooks handily took the lead early on, eventually walking away with an unofficial winning total of 3,160 votes. Incumbent Jack Daniels garnered an unofficial 1,966 votes.

The outgoing county mayor said he wanted to thank all the people of Claiborne County for everything they had ever done for him.

“I thank all the voters for all their support. It has been an honor to serve this county as mayor,” said Daniels.

The new county mayor says he stands for smaller government, lower taxes and transparent leadership. His ideas on a smaller government include term limits and reductions in the number of county commissioners.

He was instrumental in the creation of the Charter Commission. The recent election saw the placement of seven of the nine district member panel.

Joe Brooks says he will work towards lowering taxes for the elderly and reducing the wheel tax. He says there should be tax savings on early tax payments.

The creation of a trade school, something he says he would like to see, would provide local industry with skilled labor. He is for growth in education and for opening up TVA lands for public access and camping uses.

“I stand for a farm to table system to make farming more profitable, locally,” said Brooks.

The new county mayor will likely hit the floor running, come Sept. 1, when he officially takes the reins. Brooks could be seen up to the day prior to election standing beside his campaign signs in various communities stretching across the county, from Clairfield to Harrogate to Springdale and all points in between.