COVINGTON - Bill Watterson is applying for what is technically only the third job of his career, with the announcement Friday that he is launching his campaign for sheriff of Newton County.
A native of Newton County, Watterson's first job was his service in the U.S. Air Force before he headed to his second place of employment - the NCSO, where he has worked for the past 17 years.
Watterson, who will be running as a Republican, announced his candidacy at a press conference in front of the Newton County Law Enforcement Center.
"I'm committed to our community and to our families," he said. "I want to continue to keep our community safe."
Watterson, who serves as field lieutenant in the criminal investigation division of the Newton County Sheriff's Office, said he's thought about running for sheriff for the last five years and that the retirement of Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols provided him with the opportunity to do just that.
"Sheriff Nichols has done a great job of protecting our families. I hate to see him go, but I thank him for his service," Watterson said. "I'm running for sheriff to continue to fight crime and protect our families. Newton County is growing, and crime always tends to follow. There's nothing more important to me than protecting your family and mine, and that's exactly why I am running."
Watterson believes he has the experience necessary to uphold the traditions of what he characterized as a "distinguished" line of Newton County sheriffs.
"It is the sheriff's job to enforce the law, crack down on crime and protect our families," he said. "In choosing a new sheriff, experience matters. I have the experience necessary to get the job done."
During his law enforcement career, Watterson said he has had the opportunity to work in every department of the sheriff's office.
At one point, he led the investigative team of a tri-county task force that saw the arrest and conviction of two people for the cultivation of marijuana in Newton County. The case led to more than $300,000 in confiscated drug assets being awarded to the NCSO.
If elected, Watterson said he would like to continue building the NCSO's patrol and investigative division by adding manpower, as well as working on increasing community partnership.
"I think that we should have a close relationship with the community ... I would definitely have more meetings with the community to find out what their concerns are and address them," he said.
If there is manpower and money in the budget available, Watterson said he would like to build a precinct on the western side of the county so the sheriff's office can handle calls in the area more efficiently.
Watterson said he would also like to provide more programs that teens can become involved with at the sheriff's office, in an effort to communicate with teens and lower the crime rate among young people.
Another thing the candidate said he would like to do is develop a program that would keep residents aware of crime trends in their neighborhoods and up to date on Amber Alerts and similar information.
Watterson, 40, and his wife, Yolonda, are members of East Ridge Community Church and reside in Covington with their two sons, McKenzie and Micah.
Watterson said his campaign would host several fund raisers and meet-and-greets beginning in February.
Watterson will also launch his campaign Web site, www.VoteWatterson.com, in a few weeks and encourages residents with questions to contact him through the site when it goes online. In the meantime, however, Watterson encourages those with questions to call him on his cell phone at 678-859-2131.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.