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News State / Region Candidates for Jackson County sheriff profiled

Mary RockRepublican candidates featured in first of two parts.

The Macon County News is presenting candidate profiles on all primary candidates between now and the May 6 primary. Following the results of the primary, MCN will then profile candidates vying for seats in November.

The Jackson County Sheriff race is an office in which voters will choose which candidate will move on to the general election in November. The winner of the May Republican primary will face the winner of the May Democratic primary in the November general election.

Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe, who has held the office for 12 years, is not seeking re-election.

This week, the focus is on the Republican candidates for sheriff. The Democratic candidate profiles will appear in next week's edition of The Macon County News.

Republicans Mary Rock, Jimmy Hodgins, and Curtis Lambert, have filed to run for Jackson County Sheriff and will face the winner of the Democratic primary.

All candidates were asked the same questions for their candidate profiles.

Provide a bio including personal, professional, educational and political.

Mary Rock: A native of Jackson County, Mary Rock is a professional bail bondsman with authority to write bonds in all 100 counties in the state. After graduating from Rutherford County High School, Rock served in the United States Army Military Police from 1986 until 1995. She first received her North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training certification in 1988. She upheld her law enforcement certification until 1990. Rock attended Western Carolina University where she studied criminal justice and social work from 1993-1996.

Since 1998, she has worked as a N.C. licensed professional bail bondsman for her business, Rock Bail Bonds. Rock is also a N.C. licensed Surety Bail Agent.

Rock is an active member of the National Rifle Association as well as the North Carolina Bail Agents Association.

Jimmy HodginsJimmy Hodgins: Although born in Macon County, Hodgins has lived in Jackson County for the past 41 years. Hodgins attended Franklin High School. He has been married to Irene Gibson Hodgins for 41 years and together the couple has three children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Hodgins has owned and operated his own logging business for the past 41 years successfully. During which he has maintained a company budget, supervised staff, and completed work on schedule.

Curtis Lambert: After securing an associate’s degree from Southwestern Community College, Lambert attended Western Carolina University where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree. Lambert worked for the Sylva Police department for eight years and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for two years. He has been a law enforcement officer since 1995. Lambert and his wife Amber live in Dillsboro with their four children.

Why do you want to be sheriff?

Rock: “I want to be sheriff to help those in need,” said Rock. “To uphold the Constitution and protect the public from crime. To stop the drug trafficking/ dealing in our county.”

Hodgins: “The reason I want to be sheriff is the fact that with my leadership we can make Jackson County a safer place for families to raise their children,” he said. “I believe in no toleration for illegal drugs in Jackson County. In doing so, it will also make our county a desirable place for business owners to open new businesses.”

Lambert: “As a lifelong resident of Jackson County I feel now is the time for a sheriff who is concerned about safe schools, crime prevention, professionalism and all the citizens of Jackson County,” he said. “I am the candidate that will lead the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in the direction that all citizens can be proud.”

What do you think is praiseworthy for the current sheriff?

Rock: “That he has earned retirement,” said Rock.

Hodgins: “One point of praise that I see for the current sheriff is the fact that he began a chaplaincy program at the jail to offer guidance for a better life,” he said. “I will continue with this program and expand on it.”

Curtis LambertLambert: “Early in his administration he provided necessary equipment for the deputies,” said Lambert.

What is something you think can be improved upon?

Rock: “We need improvement in applying equal protection of the law to all and equal treatment of the law to all offenders,” she said. “All citizens should be able to obtain help.”

Hodgins: “The work ethic in the office. By this I mean my deputies and myself will spend more time patrolling our communities and less time in the office. I believe it’s important for the officers to be familiar with all of our communities. The patrol officers should know the citizens of Jackson County, and the citizens should know the patrol officers' names. We should never be too far away when an emergency call comes in.”

Lambert: “I feel community relations could be improved at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “Currently there is no collaboration with the citizens, businesses or the university. As sheriff, I would be open with all media outlets along with all the citizens of Jackson County with information concerning the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office or any quality of life issue. The only exception would be ongoing investigations until those cases have been concluded. I will be a visible sheriff, I want to be seen and known to all the citizens of Jackson County.”

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Rock: “I want to accomplish deputizing auxiliary officers from surrounding jurisdictions and seeking the deputization of our deputies in same surrounding jurisdictions to form a network to stop organized crime rings who are involved in drug trafficking and breaking and entering rings,” said Rock. “I hope to serve Jackson County citizens with the law enforcement protection deserved by all citizens.”

Hodgins: “By the end of my first term, my goals are to see a great reduction in the illegal drug activity which we have at this time,” he said. “I want to see all of our schools to be drug free and protect our children and teachers at school. My resource officers in the schools will be focused on their job and to respond to any information they receive seriously. I really want to see our county become a very safe place to raise a family now, and in the future.”

Lambert: “As sheriff I would ensure that each deputy will have the opportunity to receive training that will help them become a better deputy, which will improve law enforcement services in general and improve the department as a whole,” said Lambert. “I will provide specialized training on child abuse and mental health issues for all sworn personnel in the department. I will work for competitive salaries for our deputies who place their lives on the line everyday for our safety. I will ensure the policies of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office follow the 'best law enforcement practices' of the United States. As sheriff, I will attend community meetings to hear your concerns and be available to the citizens of Jackson County.”

What do you see as being your greatest challenge?

Rock: “The implementation of all new policies in the operation of the sheriff’s office, jail, patrol and court bailiffs. The new scheduling of opening and fully staffing the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office 24/7 and opening and fully staffing Cashiers Sheriff’s Office sub-station 24/7.”

Hodgins: “My greatest challenge will be combating illegal drugs,” he said. “In order to rid our county of drugs, we must stop the suppliers, not just the users. I know it will not be easy, but I am determined to make Jackson County a better place.”

Lambert: “There are many challenges that face the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in the next few years, such as a plan for safe schools, drug crimes continuing to rise and a department that has become reactive and not proactive,” he said. “However, I believe the biggest issue facing the sheriff’s office in the near future is updating and upgrading the detention center and courtroom security. The detention center is an important issue as it deals not only with the safety and security of the inmates, but also of the general public visiting the Justice and Administration Building.”

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Rock: “I have followed thousands of cases from initial charges to completion in our courts. I know most Jackson County families,” she said. “I have had contact with court clerks, judges, jailers, police, sheriffs, district attorneys, magistrates, clerks and Cherokee police authorities in our county and surrounding counties. I have an understanding of the entire court system and processes.

Hodgins: “What sets me apart from my two opponents in the primary is the fact that I have successfully operated my own company,” said Hodgins. “I have supervised people in the past to reach an objective over and over. I have written and maintained budgets for my business. I could not have stayed in business for 41 years if I did not do these things. I also know the effect illegal drugs have. Not only on the user, but on the people who love them. It’s my desire that no family should have to suffer through what my family has had to endure.”

Lambert: “I have the personal qualities that will raise the professionalism of the sheriff’s office,” he said. “I will instill the high standards the office of the sheriff deserves. I will be an effective leader and manager that the office lacks. I have the law enforcement experience to understand what each deputy faces every day. Having been a lifelong resident of Jackson County I understand the concerns of the people. I will be there to help protect your family and property. I will not hesitate to work with other law enforcement agencies and the court system to facilitate improvements in all our executive and judicial processes to ensure a safe environment for all our citizens and guests who visit our county.”

Are there any additional comments you would like to make?

Rock: “I am a strong advocate of constitutional rights and our right to bear arms,” said Rock. “Our schools are vulnerable to attack from those seeking to harm our children. I would seek to install lock boxes for weapons in multiple areas in all schools for those administrators/staff who qualify for concealed weapons permits. I would increase patrols and add resource officers to all schools and to cover after school functions.”

Hodgins: “A vote for me is a vote to make Jackson County a better place to live and raise a family. It’s a vote to restrict the drug activity in Jackson County,” he said. “I appreciate your vote and prayers. Please pray for me as I pray for Jackson County as well. Your vote does count. Let’s make it work. I look forward to serving you as Sheriff of Jackson County.”

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