LUMBERTON — The 2014 race for county sheriff will not be decided in the May primary as a Republican with a long history in law enforcement has announced that he will run, ensuring that there will be a contest in the November election.
Randy Lynn Hammonds, who retired from the North Carolina Highway Patrol in 2007 with more than 28 years of law enforcement experience, becomes the third person to publicly declare for sheriff.
Two Democrats, incumbent Sheriff Kenneth Sealey and Sealey’s 2010 challenger, Lennis Watts, have announced their plans to have a rematch in May 2014. In 2010, Sealey held back a strong challenge from Watts, a former state trooper and county commissioner, to hold onto the job he has held since 2004. Sealey defeated Watts by capturing 54 percent of the more than 16,000 votes cast. The outcome of the sheriff’s race was decided in May instead of November because there was no Republican candidate.
Hammonds, of Lumberton, joined the Highway Patrol as a trooper immediately after graduating from Pembroke State University in 1979 with a degree in physical education. He served from 1996 to 2003 as the first sergeant in charge of the patrol’s Lumberton office, and than as as a lieutenant in Monroe. In 2005 he was promoted to captain and assigned to Fayetteville, where he served until his retirement in 2007.
Currently, Hammonds does contract work for Walden Security in Fayetteville.
“My No. 1 priority will be to operate a well-trained, disciplined, professional sheriff’s office that is focused on keeping the people of Robeson County safe,” Hammonds, a Robeson County native, said. “I will always put public safety above politics.”
Citing his long career in law enforcement and extensive management experience, Hammonds his goals are: having the best educated and best trained sheriff’s office possible; developing deputies as leaders through management and specialized training; ushering in a new era of law enforcement to meet the challenges of the future; and establishing a sheriff’s commission comprised of municipal and county professionals, both men and women, to represent the community. The commission, he said, among other things would help establish both a clear professional vision and policies for the Sheriff’s Office.
“To be effective and efficient, law enforcement needs to be looked at as a career and not just a job,” he said. “There needs to be an investment made in the department’s employees. Employees are the future in county law enforcement.”
According to Phillip Stephens, Robeson County’s GOP leader, Hammonds will be the first American Indian to run for sheriff in Robeson County on the Republican ticket. He said he believes the candidate will run strong in the county, which still boasts a significant majority of registered Democrats.
“In a sheriff’s race whether one is a Democrat or Republican makes less of a difference. It transcends ideology,” Stephens said. “In a sheriff you want someone who will enforce laws and protect society. You need to look for the most qualified individual to take the county into the future.”
Hammonds said he is a longtime Republican.
“Randy is a real Republican,” Stephens said. “That’s well-documented. He didn’t just recently switch to the party so he can run for sheriff.”