Meet Jackson County sheriff candidate: Donnie Edenfield

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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Donnie Edenfield (R) is running for Jackson County Sheriff against Kevin Arnold (D), Hayes Baggett (D), Scott Edwards (R), Tim Ham (D) and Jeff Snell (R).

Who is Donnie Edenfield?

Edenfield is a lifelong native of Jackson County. He has two brothers.

“I am a God-fearing follower of Jesus Christ,” he said.

He graduated Gran Ridge High School, then Chipola College and Troy University. He has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in criminal justice and public administration.

He has a 16-year-old daughter who is going to be a junior at Marianna High School. They live on a 40-acre farm passed down from Edenfield’s grandfather where they raise a small heard of cattle.

He began his career in criminal justice as a correctional officer in 1994 and was promoted to a probation officer, during which he worked a lot inside the courts, he said. He then went back to the law enforcement academy to become law enforcement certified.

Edenfield currently holds three FDLE standards: corrections, probation and law enforcement.

He is currently the regional training manager for the North Florida Region of Probation and Parole, where he supervises the training of 325 staff members over three judicial circuits or 16 counties, he said. He said he also manages the training budget.

Why are you running for Sheriff?

“I am running for sheriff for the citizens of Jackson County,” Edenfield said. “The citizens of Jackson County deserve a sheriff that is going to put the needs of the citizens first and foremost.”

Is there anything about the structure of the Sheriff’s Office that you think should change?

Edenfield said that he wants to make sure the right people are in the right places. He said this is heavily reliant on laying out job expectations and accountability.

“Each employee of the Sheriff’s Department will sign an agreement annually letting them know what’s expected in that particular position,” Edenfield said.

He said he would also implement an annual evaluation to hold staff accountable for both good and questionable behavior.

“My goal is to have a citizen panel that is involved in the interview process as well as in the promotional process and the evaluation process from year to year,” Edenfield added.

He said the Sheriff’s Office also has to hire people with high moral character.

Jackson County currently has a deputy awaiting trial for fabricating evidence in dozens of cases. How will you ensure this does not happen in the future?

Checks and balances, Edenfield said. Also, more oversight, he added.

“Don’t expect what you don’t inspect,” Edenfield said.

“It starts with me,” he added. “If I’m your Sheriff, I have to be accountable for my actions.”

He said that it is important to gain trust in the community by being involved and interacting with the people.

What are you thoughts on the ordinance to display information about sex offenders on the JCSO Facebook page?

100% on board and it should have already have been in place, he said.

He said it is not punitive in nature, it is to protect the citizens and improve transparency, and that he considers sex offenders citizens.

Can you talk about the teen driving program proposed for Jackson County?

The program will be used to train teen drivers and hopefully decrease the amount of teen driver accidents and be free of charge, he said.

Edenfield said it can be funded partially by the Florida Sheriff’s Association and potentially partially by local businesses.

How will you address drugs in Jackson County?

Edenfield said all law enforcement agencies must work together to combat drugs. He said that if they can slow the spread of drugs, they can prevent a lot of other crimes the come out of drug use from happening.

He said the JCSO must be involved in the recovery of addicts and aggressively pursue dealers.

Will you be re-allocating the budget in anyway?

He said he would possibly devote more budget money to staff salaries.

Closing remarks:

“I will serve all the citizens of JC with the highest level of integrity and accountability and passion and I will work hard to recruit and retain employees with good moral character and value and you will see a Sheriff’s Department that is involved in you community.”

Meet the other candidates running for office this year.

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