Desoto County News

Republican club hears from Hopper, sheriff’s candidates

The two candidates for DeSoto County Sheriff continued their campaigns Tuesday night, taking their platforms to the party faithful at the monthly meeting of the DeSoto County Republican Club.  

The evening with Michael Lee and Thomas Tuggle drew a crowded meeting room at the M.R. Davis Public Library in Southaven. 

Candidate Walter Hopper, running against incumbent state Sen. Kevin Blackwell in the primary for Blackwell’s Senate District 19 seat, also appeared at the meeting. Blackwell was away in Jackson and was not able to attend.  

But most everyone was there to hear from Lee and Tuggle, the two seeking to be the next top law enforcement officer in DeSoto County after Bill Rasco announced his impending retirement.  

Both kept talking about the need to stop crime and make DeSoto County a safer place to live. It’s a theme that’s been heard by both candidates throughout the campaign, which is now less than two weeks from decision day. No Democrat qualified to run for sheriff, so the Republican primary winner will become the next sheriff.  

Lee continued his push to “push Memphis crime back to Memphis,” but also spoke about what he called the business side of the sheriff’s department. He said he would be able to effectively run the sheriff’s department, pointing to a county budget of $350 million and the sheriff’s department’s budget of about $35 million that he has helped to oversee as District 5 Supervisor.   

“We need to come together as a community and protect you in the community,” Lee said.  

Tuggle also talked about stopping crime, saying, “We will make the criminal element uncomfortable. If we do that, they will find somewhere else to go.”  

But Tuggle also said he is working to put DeSoto County at the top of the list to be considered for a regional training center for active shooter response training, at no cost to taxpayers. The retired head of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy said he would work with legislators for a similar facility for North Mississippi, located in DeSoto County.  

Tuggle added he has used resources to make it possible for sheriff’s department officers to achieve a college degree. Not saying what schools they are, but Tuggle said two universities have promised college credit time for work experience.  

Hopper spoke of his move into political activism after the reelection of Barack Obama as president in 2012, his disappointment in Mitt Romney as the GOP choice and disappointment in the party for having the moderate as its nominee.  

Hopper, a staunch conservative, said crime is one issue he hears a lot during his door-to-door campaign. But he adds there’s another issue that trumps crime.  

“The number one thing I’m hearing when I’m knocking on doors is term limits,” Hopper said. “They want term limits and they want the politicians to be regulated in their terms.” 

The Senate District 19 race is one where the Republican winner won’t automatically ascend to the Legislature. Awaiting the primary survivor is Democrat Sandy Kerr in the November general election.  

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