COMMENTARY: Nichols Leaving Young With Solid Foundation

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

Judging from the frequent shouts of exuberance expressed by the crowds gathered at the Cannon County Courthouse and Joe's Place Thursday, there are many people very happy that Darrell Young will soon be the sheriff of Cannon County.

Outgoing Sheriff Billy Nichols is a fine, upstanding person, but there was a general consensus throughout the county that he was not an effective leader of the sheriff's department.

That was indicative of the final tally of Thursday's voting when compared to 2006, when Nichols defeated Young. Nichols won 1904 to 1330 that year in a two-person race. This year, Young garnered 2123 votes while Nichols fell to 1436 in a race which featured five contenders.

From my observation, Young has a solid foundation on which to build as he molds the department in his image and incorporates his law enforcement ideas. Sheriff Nichols deserves much of the credit for that.

The sheriff's department incident reports I write from each week are an indication to me that the rank-and-file of the department are top-notch, dedicated officers. The deputies who patrol the streets, investigate crimes and assist in the prosecution of cases appear for the most part to perform thoroughly and professionally.

There is also nothing that is apparent to me to suggest that there is any problem with the operation of the Cannon County Jail. It routinely passes inspection and rarely are any complaints heard from prisoners.

Why Nichols lost is somewhat puzzling in a sense. Nothing he has done as sheriff would appear to warrant the public's loss of trust or confidence in his capabilities, but that seems to have been the case.

Young himself did not engage in any form of negative campaigning. In fact, from my perspective, he ran a rather low-file campaign. But he did develop a great deal of grassroots support, especially among younger voters, and made excellent use of Internet social media in getting out his message.

Law enforcement plays an important and vital role in our county. They keep us and our families safe and secure as we go about to daily routines. We all need to thank Sheriff Nichols for his excellent services the past four years, and give our support to Sheriff-Elect Young during the next four.