COVINGTON - Covington Chief of Police Stacey Cotton announced Friday morning on the steps of the historic Newton County Courthouse that he will run for sheriff of Newton County in the 2008 general election.
"I believe I'm the most qualified candidate," said Cotton, who will be running as a Republican. "I think it's important to get the word out early and often. I want the citizens of Newton County and Covington to know I'm serious about this campaign."
Cotton said that he's been preparing for this opportunity throughout his entire law enforcement career and feels that his 10 years as chief of police has prepared him for the office.
"Throughout my career, I have prepared myself for this opportunity by serving in all areas and phases of law enforcement," he said in a prepared statement. "As chief of police, I have demonstrated the proven leadership required to operate a large metro Atlanta law enforcement agency such as the Newton County Sheriff's Office."
Cotton has served as Covington Police Department Chief of Police since 1997. He rose through the ranks after becoming a patrol officer in 1987.
A product of Newton County schools, he serves in a variety of responsibilities in such community agencies as Project ReNeWal, Leadership Newton County, the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce and the Newton/Walton Child Advocacy Center. He is also active in both the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Cotton is a member of First Baptist Church of Covington and has served as a basketball coach with the Newton County Recreation Department.
Cotton, who holds a bachelor's and master's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in public administration, said that he's always strived to be innovative in his approach to law enforcement.
"Sheriff (Joe) Nichols is a great friend and mentor to me and has taught me what it takes ... I'm excited to follow in his footsteps," he said.
Following the last election, Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols said that he would not be seeking re-election in 2008.
The chief said that the NCSO already has a lot of "talented" people in place, but indicated that there are some improvements he would like to make to the office, which he said he would release along with parts of his platform as the campaign progresses.
"A true leader will always look for areas to improve," Cotton said.
Cotton also had high praise for city officials and residents, who he said had always shown him great support.
"The city of Covington has been great to me and taught me a lot," he said. "I'm not leaving the citizens and city of Covington, I'm serving them in a different capacity."
Cotton said that he would stay on as chief of police throughout the campaign. He will make his first appearance as a candidate for sheriff at the Covington Christmas Parade today.
To find out more about Cotton or to contact him, you can visit his campaign Web site at www.cotton4sheriff.com.
Joel Griffin can be reached at email@example.com.