Pike Sheriff's race 2020

Candidates in contested Pike County races were asked to fill out questionnaires for the News Watchman. We will be printing their responses in upcoming editions leading up to the election on Nov. 3.

Today, we spotlight candidates in the Pike County Sheriff’s race. Candidates vying for that seat are James Nelson (Democrat) and Tracy Evans (Independent). Nelson was appointed interim sheriff by the Pike County Democratic Central Committee in July 2019, after former Sheriff Charles Reader was suspended.

The candidates’ responses are listed in the following article, and the two candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

TRACY D. EVANS

1. What is your career background?

Detective Sergeant — Waverly Police Department 1999-2008

Major — Pike County Sheriff’s Office 2009-2018

Investigator — Pike County Prosecutor’s Office 2019-Present

2. How long have you been a resident of Pike County and name any community organizations of which you are a part.

From age 5 years old to present other than a few years working in Columbus, Ohio

Master Mason — Orient Lodge 321 Free and Accepted Masons, Waverly, Ohio

Hospital Hill Community Crime Watch

Denver Road Community Crime Watch

Member of Pike County Farm Bureau

Member of Pike County Drug Coalition

Member of Pike County Human Trafficking Coalition

3. What is your educational background?

Graduate of Western High School 1993

Graduate of Vern Rife Joint Vocational School of Electricity 1993

Attended Columbus State Community College Electromechanical Engineering 1994

Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy (OPOTA) 2000

Graduate of National Institute of Truth Verification (NITV) 2012

Currently attending Ohio University seeking bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice

4. What qualifications do you have to perform the duties of Pike County Sheriff?

During my 20-year career in law enforcement, I rose through the ranks of patrolman, sergeant, detective, and major (chief of detectives). I hold several certifications in law enforcement. During my years in law enforcement, I have served in operational and administrative positions that provide a sound understanding of the broad range of duties required as Sheriff. Also, I have extensive experience in community policing and have given many speeches on crime awareness.

As a major at the Sheriff’s Office, I was responsible for monitoring budgetary issues, personnel, and administrative functions associated with the investigative division of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. I am currently on the dean’s list while presently attending Ohio University majoring in Criminal Justice.

5. What are issues in Pike County that you believe need addressed by county law enforcement?

1. To immediately contact surrounding county Sheriff’s offices to seek prisoner housing for the purpose of significantly reducing prisoner housing and transportation cost associated with budgetary issues.

2. Timely response to citizens’ calls concerning complaints of criminal activity and aggressive follow-up to those calls when required.

3. Deputies stepping up to be aggressive road patrols throughout the county.

4. Reengaging with the US 23 Pipeline Drug Taskforce and coordinating with local law enforcement agencies in dealing with illegal drug activity.

5. Developing crime prevention programs for elderly citizens and the business community in Pike County. I want to continue with seniors and law enforcement together (SALT) within the community of Pike County.

6. Developing a coordinated effort with the Pike County Drug Court concerning drug offenders who qualify to participate with the court. It is my intent to seek a renewal of the state grant for drug rehabilitation in cooperation with the Pike County Recovery Council and the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health. If renewable, this was an Ohio Attorney General reimbursable 50K grant I assisted in implementing in Pike County named, Post Overdose Response Team (PORT).

7. In cooperation and coordination with the Pike County Juvenile Court, I will implement mentoring programs for troubled youths and bring back the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.

6. What are your goals or plans for the future of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office if elected?

My first goal is to bring integrity, honesty, and truthfulness to the men and women of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office and citizens of Pike County.

My second goal is the development of a strong working relationship with the office of Pike County Commissioners. It is very important that a Sheriff and Commissioners communicate and coordinate with each other on security operations of the courts, budgetary issues, and safety concerns for the citizens of Pike County. It is my intent to be a working Sheriff, who will find federal, state, and local funding to supplement the budget of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office.

My third goal is to provide leadership to other first responder agencies in Pike County for the purpose of a unified and coordinated response to emergency situations when they occur; flooding, tornadoes, major injury accidents, wanted fugitives, and major multi-jurisdictional crimes.

7. How do you believe law enforcement can work with the local community to address systemic issues in the county, such as drug addiction, poverty, and violent crime?

As I have stated previously in my responses, I am a strong believer and supporter of coordination of activities. It is my belief that any sheriff of a county should be willing and able to work with, assist others, and coordinate with other agency leaders to achieve mutually held goals and objectives. One agency cannot possibly correct all problems and issues that exist in Pike County. However, when agency leaders have regular meetings and discussions to identify the most significant concerns, they have individual plans that can be developed to coordinate responses to those problems. “Barn twine works best when all the strands are woven together.”

8. Please include any other information, including personal information that you feel is relevant.

I am married to my beautiful wife, Margie Evans, who is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a master’s degree from The University of Cincinnati in social work. I am the proud father of five wonderful children: Tate Evans, Jessa Evans, Trace Evans, Ty Evans, and Madalyn Evans. Jessa is currently attending Shawnee State University for Early Childhood Development, and Trace is currently attending Ohio University for Occupational Therapy. Due to the influence of my father, Dave Evans, who was a well-known bluegrass singer, songwriter, and composer, I have continued his legacy of playing his music and performing many concerts and outdoor shows. I started playing professionally at the age of 15 years old with my dad and traveling all over the United States and Canada. I have performed at such well-known festivals as SamJam of Piketon, Ohio, and Poppy Mountain of Morehead, Kentucky.

JAMES E. NELSON

1. What is your career background?

I am James E. Nelson your present Pike County Interim Sheriff. I have held this office since August 5, 2019. I am running for Sheriff in the November election. I have worked in law enforcement for over 30 years. I have held various positions throughout my career. I have worked for the state as a corrections officer, juvenile probation officer, police officer, deputy, investigator, diversion officer with the prosecutor’s office, school resource officer, police chief and sheriff. I also served as a board member of the Scioto Valley Local School Board for 16 years, and am presently on the Board of Directors of STAR Community Justice Center.

2. How long have you been a resident of Pike County, and name any community organizations of which you are a part.

I have been a resident of Pike County all my life except for three years while serving our country in the US Army.

3. What is your educational background?

I am a graduate of Piketon High School, have an Associate Degree in Corrections from Scioto Technical College (now Shawnee State) and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ohio University. I have also graduated from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and taken numerous classes

4. What qualifications do you have to perform the duties of Pike County Sheriff?

I have been the county sheriff for the last 14 months and in this position have had valuable on-the-job training to effectively run the office. With my background as a police chief, school board member and board member of STAR I have gained valuable experience in budget matters and the proper operations of the office. I have worked in almost every aspect of law enforcement and have the knowledge and experience to effectively do the job.

5. What are issues in Pike County that you believe need addressed by county law enforcement?

I feel that the biggest issue in our county and our country is the drug epidemic. This problem has been in our community for years. It affects all in our county. I feel that we need to put more focus on working with the schools, courts (juvenile and county court), churches and any community groups to inform everyone of things to watch for to help combat drugs. We have in our county many recovery councils to help adults, we also need to be working with our children and their problems.

6. What are your goals or plans for the future of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office if elected? (Editor’s Note: This question and the one below are answered together.)

7. How do you believe law enforcement can work with the local community to address systemic issues in the county, such as drug addiction, poverty, and violent crime? (Editor’s Note: This question and the one above are answered together.)

We have balanced our budget in 2019 and are in the process of doing the same in 2020. Our plans are to have an increase in patrols in the county. The area we cover in the county is almost impossible to cover with the manpower we have. We are working with the County Commissioners to increase our budget to accomplish that. We are also looking at grants that would help in doing the job and help fund what we need to do. We are working to improve the image and trust of the office and this is a continuing process. In the future we will be looking for ways to better serve the residents of the county bringing back neighborhood crime watch, SALT and other programs that have been neglected and get the schools and churches involved in their community.

8. Please include any other information, including personal information, that you feel is relevant.

I am married to Linda Gullett Nelson who is retired from the Scioto Valley School District. We have three children. John Nelson, US Army Retired Lieutenant Colonel. Jamie Davis, Dental Hygienist, Husband Jeff. James (JJ) Nelson, IT Administrator, Wife Kim. Six wonderful grandchildren: Trey, Rilee, Dana, Gabe, Roland and Violet.

I am a member of American Legion, DAV and IOOF #323.

I have worked with the Dogwood Committee and various other organizations working for the improvement and betterment of our community.

Load comments