(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The August 4 primary is less than one week and that means if you haven't started researching the issues or candidates, you may want to get a jump on it.
We’re taking a look at the two candidates running for Buchanan County sheriff.
Sheriff Bill Puett is defending his seat. “We’ve done a lot but we’ve got more work to do but it is about the experience, the abilities, the knowledge, the skillset to continue to lead the sheriff's office,” Puett said.
Puett’s challenger is police sergeant Keith Dudley. “I think I'm more approachable. I'm out more in the community. people, they know my face. they feel comfortable coming to me and voicing their concerns,” Dudley said.
As far as experience goes both have law enforcement backgrounds. Dudley has 19 years, 18 with the St. Joseph Police Department, the last year as a sergeant.
"I want to be involved with what they are doing and being out there working with them. I've been on the streets for the 18 years that I've been there and I know what's going on in the city and the county and I know what the officers and the deputies are going through and what they need to do their job effectively,” Dudley said.
Puett has 33 years with the sheriff's department, the last four as sheriff.
“The sheriff's office is unique in that we have four areas of equal responsibility and I can say that I have a great deal of experience in all of those,” Puett said.
The sheriff's office patrols 441 miles, serves as courthouse security, warrants, evictions, and last but not least, oversees the jail.
“It is a major undertaking that requires a lot of focus and understanding about civil rights of inmates and the legal requirements of the things that have to be provided for them,” Puett said.
Dudley admits his experience is limited to police work but is eager to learn the ropes.
"I don't know everything there is to know about running a jail but I know there are people that are over there that do so I will lean on those people until I get the knowledge that I need to do those things,” Dudley said. “I have no doubt that I'll be able to learn what I need to learn.”
The Buchanan County sheriff answers to residents in 12 towns.
Dudley says the importance of listening to residents is not lost on him.
The protests following the murder of George Floyd changed the way he sees his job.
“When we had protesters at the law enforcement center I walked out and listened to them which is what they wanted, they wanted to be heard,” Dudley said. “It really opened my eyes to maybe some of the things I wasn’t aware of that were going on in the community.”
Puett says when residents call, he listens and responds. Take for example the drug disposal or needle drop-off boxes that started with phone calls from residents.
“We have been able to take in three 18 gallon containers full of needles since we started that program and dispose of them and get that junk off the street,” Puett said.
As you get ready to vote for the Buchanan County sheriff, here is why each of the candidates say you should choose them.
“I feel it’s time that our leaders really engage the community, step out, listen to them, find out what they want and do their best to make those things happen,” Dudley said.
“I want to continue focusing on making sure that our community is a better, safer place that's what it's all about,” Puett said.
The race is part of the Republican Primary, no Democrats are running for sheriff.
That means to vote for sheriff, you will have to ask for a Republican ticket when you vote.