The tumultuous race for Faulkner County Sheriff comes to a close Tuesday, though a federal investigation into a political plot to derail a candidate’s campaign continues.
A candidate who left the race before the primary election was subject of a federal investigation, and a closed case involving yet another candidate and sexual misconduct allegations was brought into the public eye.
Sheriff’s Maj. Andy Shock, the Republican candidate on the ballot, overcame three challengers to secure his candidacy, and the fraudulent accusation that he fathered a child with a Texarkana woman and failed to pay child support.
Fake documents including a birth certificate and legal correspondence were mailed to voters weeks before the primary election.
Little about the case has been revealed by federal investigators.
Tommy Earnhart, a Democratic retired district police sergeant, is Shock’s opponent.
Earnhart is a Conway resident and native of Greenbrier. He lives with his Wife, Mary Gale. The two have three sons and one grandchild.
In campaigning, Earnhart has maintained he will "give the sheriff’s office back to the people of Faulkner County" and "get respect put back into the office."
He worked for Greenbrier Police Department for 10 years before moving to Arkansas Transportation and Safety Agency, which merged with Highway Police. He retired in February with 26 years of law enforcement experience.
Earnhart said he has "quite a bit of changes" in mind for the sheriff’s office if he is elected.
"I do plan on changing quite a bit. I’ve got to check things out, but I want to get the respect back in that sheriff’s office. I want it to become more professional, and I want to decrease the response time on calls," he said. "I have had a lot of people tell me they don’t ever show up, and I can’t understand that."
Earnhart said the department’s budget "needs to be looked at."
Another issue he said he feels is important is the overpopulation of cats and dogs in the county.
"It’s my understanding the Quorum Court and the County Judge are working on it. We need to help expedite that because it’s a huge problem. Deputies spend quite a bit of time on calls," Earnhart said.
Earnhart seeks the office because he has "wanted to do it for a long time, and I’m running for the people of this county. I want people to get their trust back in the sheriff’s office … get them involved and participating. I feel like getting the relationship back with the people is one of the most important things."
Shock is a native of Enola, and he now resides in the Saltillo community with his wife, Kim, and their two children.
Shock, who has achieved the rank of major, started as a volunteer at the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office in 1999.
He has been a patrol sergeant, a criminal investigator, and patrol lieutenant.
Shock has said in campaigning that his first-hand experience and close to 14 years in the sheriff’s office make him the stronger candidate.
"You can’t get away from the fact that the sheriff is the chief executive officer for the whole office. It isn’t like it was decades ago when there was just a sheriff and a deputy. I’m going to be on patrol saturations and be visible in the community as I have been for 14 years now," he said. "The chief officer in the county has to know what the administrative side of things entail."
Shock said certain aspects of the department would change under his leadership.
"I feel the ranking system in our positions is a little too rank heavy. If you cut different positions that are rank heavy you can put more deputies on the street. My focus is to put as many deputies on the street as possible," he said.
Shock said he has been a part of organizing the department’s budget.
"I have a firm grasp on the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office," Shock said.
Shock said moving through the ranks of the department, he has been able to have a larger impact on the community. He said he seeks the office to continue that.
"With my administrative experience, and as a lifelong resident, I have a lot to offer the citizens of Faulkner County. Public officials need the peoples’ trust and we have many ideas to make the office so visibly transparent to an extent that it may be too transparent," Shock said.
Sheriff Karl Byrd, a three-term democrat, announced he would not seek re-election. He was elected in 2006.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)