We endorse Chatham County Sheriff incumbent Richard Webster. Webster is a lifelong resident of Chatham County and has worked in that office for more than 20 years. He is active in a number of local, state and national organizations, including the Dispute Settlement Center and the Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center. Webster wrote that he believes law enforcement should treat all people with as much respect and fairness as possible; he was an opponent of the 287-g (ICE) Program, which mandated that local government agencies assist in enforcing federal immigration laws by, for example, checking a person's immigration status when they're pulled over while driving.
Webster's opponent, Gary Franks, works for the U.S. Marshals Service in the federal courthouse in Durham County. He has worked in law enforcement, including as a highway patrolman, for 25 years. While that resume is impressive, we are concerned about his 2007 arrest on charges of assault inflicting serious injury. A first sergeant with the State Highway Patrol at the time, he was charged as a result of a fight with his 18-year-old son, according to media reports. Both men decided to drop the charges. Franks was not disciplined by the highway patrol, but we think this conduct is not appropriate for a law enforcement officer.