Oct. 27—This election cycle heralds a change in the Madison County Sheriff's Department, as voters will elect John Beeman or Joey Cole to take the office currently held by Scott Mellinger.
Mellinger has reached the state limit of two consecutive four-year terms as sheriff.
Cole now serves as the department's Major, which is the person's who's second-in-command for MCSD. Mellinger appointed him in 2015.
Beeman brings an impressive resume with his years serving as a federal marshal. That experience would be helpful in his efforts as sheriff to work with county courts.
County residents are fortunate to have two strong, highly qualified candidates vying for sheriff.
Cole, however, stands out as a candidate for his 30-plus years in the Sheriff's Department and four years on the Madison County Council.
In his role as the No. 2 person in the department, he has expanded the chaplaincy and recovery programs in the jail as well as introducing educational TV programming featuring professional tips and general life skills.
When asked about mistrust and criticism of police in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Cole said that the answer is more diversity in the Sheriff's Department. That, he said, helps officers understand other cultures better and how to better relate to inmates and people in the community.
Among his goals is taking a more active role in addressing the county's homelessness problem.
"The biggest myth is that they're homeless because they want to be homeless," he said.
Many homeless individuals find themselves in jail, Cole explained, as they often have other problems that contribute to their homelessness and criminal activities.
His other goals include working to improve mental health support and to address drug addiction problems in the county.
Cole's focus on rehabilitation of inmates is a great quality in a sheriff; it shows a desire to meet people where they are and get to the root of problems people are facing.