Well, Catoosa County residents, the end of an era is upon you. Sheriff Phil Summers is retiring after a long, successful career as Catoosa's top cop. There are several names that have been thrown into the hat as successors for Mr. Summers. A couple of the top contenders seem to have impressive credentials. However, I want give you three solid reasons why you need to vote for Mike Helton for sheriff of Catoosa County.
1. Experience- Through a conversation with someone at my school a few weeks ago, I realized that some people in Catoosa County only know Mike as "judge" or "county manager". They do not realize that he has 16 years of law enforcement experience. The great thing about Mike's experience is that it is very inclusive. He has been a dispatcher, a street cop, an SRO, a detective, and captain of detectives. In other words, he has experienced law enforcement from the ground up. He understands the needs at every level of the department. Mike attended two state police academies and the FBI National Academy. Mike knows law enforcement.
All that experience is great, but the other guys have experience too. What sets Mike apart? It is this. He has an in depth knowledge of the law because of his seven years as magistrate court judge and he has a real understanding of the fiscal matters that the sheriff's department faces due to his five years as Catoosa County manager. His experience isn't one dimensional. It is very well rounded.
2. Proven leadership- All I have to say is April 27, 2011. Just the mention of that date sends chills through every resident of Catoosa County. It has a horrible day that turned this little county on its head. There were so many people and agencies that sprang into action immediately following that horrible disaster. And Mike Helton was at the helm helping direct, guide, and coordinate all of the efforts to "right the ship" of Catoosa County. From the time the storm hit, he was in the middle of it all trying to assess what was happening, and what needed to be done. He worked constantly for days, weeks, and months afterwards to restore and rebuild Catoosa County. Mike knows how to lead in difficult times.
3. Integrity and Faith- Something that often plagues small counties such as Catoosa is the "good ole' boy", "you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours" modus operandi. Having known Mike for 26 years, I know how he detests that way of doing business. He is a man of the highest possible integrity. He does things by the book. That book will sometimes be a book of law, but it will always be the Bible. Mike has an extremely deep, life guiding faith. Now before some of you liberal thinking, "separation-of-church-and -state" people get all in a wad, please understand something. Mike would not go in thumping his Bible trying to proselytize the entire sheriff's office. What he does, is trust God to guide him in his decision making. (And I have to add...God does that. Mike doesn't do anything unless he firmly believes God is in it.) You have to admit, (even if you personally don't have a close relationship with God) having a man in leadership who has a close connection to God would be a very good thing, and Mike knows God.
So there you have it. I feel that these are three very solid reasons why Mike Helton needs to be the next sheriff of Catoosa County. Please be ready to vote on July 31.