Candidates for Polk County sheriff: In their own words

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2018

Next month, Polk County voters will be asked to narrow down the candidates seeking office on Election Day in November.

The local primary election will take place May 8, where registered voters will select which candidates they would like to represent either the Republican or Democrat parties in the general election on Nov. 6. For Polk County voters, one of the most contested races will be between the candidates seeking their respective party’s nomination for county sheriff. 

Seeking the Republican nomination are Retired North Carolina Highway Patrol officer Darryl Bailey and Tryon Police Department Capt. Tim Wright, while squaring off for the Democrat spot on the ticket are Polk County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Capt. B.J. Bayne and Polk County Sheriff Deputy Ronnie Smith. 

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The top vote getters for each party during the primary election will move on to the general election in November, where they will face each other for the sheriff’s seat, currently occupied by Donald Hill, who is not seeking re-election.

Polls for the May 8 primary will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. People may only vote in the primary for the party with which they are affiliated — unaffiliated voters may vote in either. Early voting began last week, and will continue through Saturday, May 5.

As early voting for the primaries continues, the Bulletin has asked the four sheriff candidates to submit brief biographies about themselves to give voters who have yet to make their choice another look at those vying for the nominations.

Darryl Bailey (R) 

Darryl Bailey

My name is Darryl Bailey, and I have been in law enforcement for 32 years working as: jailer, SWAT team, drug enforcement, detective division, road officer, sheriff’s deputy, city officer and North Carolina State Trooper.

While becoming a trooper, I went through one of the top 50 law enforcement basic training schools in the world. Not only do I have the training, they also deemed me Trooper of the Year twice, and gave me the schooling to become a firearms instructor and to obtain my advanced law enforcement training. This allows me to train my officers to handle dangerous situations.

I have been an adviser for the security force of Polk County Schools, and have been an assistant wrestling coach at Polk County Middle School.

My law enforcement career has allowed me to work events exceeding 200,000 people, and to guard the president of the United States, therefore I have the experience to take on any event in Polk County while keeping our citizens safe. Many have taken my concealed weapons class, where I have been able to train citizens to properly handle firearms.

I have been on my church’s security team, led mission trips, and am a Gideon Speaker and ordained deacon.

Currently, I am employed at Columbus Police Department. My wife of 29 years, Debbie Bailey, is a teacher’s assistant at Tryon Elementary. We are grateful for jobs that allow us to help the community blossom and to have raised our daughter, Erika, here.

Law enforcement is a lifestyle, not a job, and I can assure every person of Polk County that I will not take the tasks of being sheriff lightly.

BJ Bayne (D)

B.J. Bayne

I have been in law enforcement for 15 years, while serving 10 years with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

I have served in various capacities while at the sheriff’s office, including a deputy on patrol, a school resource officer at Polk County High School, an investigator and I am currently the captain of the Investigation Division. I also oversee and maintain the county’s Sex Offender Registry, and supervise investigations as well as school resource officers.

My other five years of law enforcement consisted of working at the University of North Carolina-Asheville Police Department. I was responsible for the investigation, training and patrol division before being promoted to assistant police chief. My duties evolved more into an administrative role, where I became responsible for creating and implementing safety plans, and maintaining the vision of the police department.

Prior to beginning a career in law enforcement, I was a city mail carrier for over 10 years with the United States Postal Service.

Besides from my daily work and duties at the sheriff’s office, I currently serve in various capacities in the community. I serve as the chair for the Polk County Child Fatality and Prevention Team, vice chair on the Green Creek Fire and Rescue Board, Green Creek Community Center Board, as well as on the Mental Health Task Force and the Substance Abuse Coalition.

I reside in the Green Creek community, where I am married to Eric, who is the owner of Complete Tree Service. I have three children, Heather, Shelby and Zack, and I am a member of Pea Ridge Baptist Church.

Ronnie Smith (D)

Ronnie Smith

Having been born, raised and educated in Polk County, I continued my education with Isothermal Community College followed by Gardner Webb University.

As a member of Silver Creek Baptist Church, I truly enjoy the family atmosphere within the church and the closeness shared by my fellow church members. I have two adult daughters and one adult son, along with seven grandchildren and one great-grandson, all whom I am very proud of.

My public service prior to joining the sheriff’s department includes five years with the Polk County EMS and 22 years combined as a paramedic in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

I also have over 16 years of experience in industrial security fire and safety with Michelin Tire Corporation.

I retired from Polk County Rescue Squad after 28 years of dedicated service. I am now employed by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and have been for nearly 18 years, and volunteered for over 10 years. Having served under three very unique sheriffs, my opportunities and training included but was not limited to patrol (shift sergeant), civil process, jail, prisoner transports, handling and transporting psychiatric patients, K-9 narcotics detection, radar, and breathalyzer certification, as well as all aspects of courtroom proceedings, including traffic, small claims, district, superior, civil and criminal courts.

I have a great working relationship with the judicial offices, clerk of court and the district attorney’s office.

Tim Wright (R) 

Tim Wright

I am a native of Polk County and attended Tryon Schools in my youth.

After graduating from Tryon High School in 1989, I enlisted the United States Navy in 1990. I completed boot camp and Radioman “A” School in San Diego, California.

After successful completion, I was transferred to my permanent duty station aboard the USS Mount Whitney in Norfolk, Virginia. I proudly served my country during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, earning a National Defense Metal.

I left the military after the completion of my enlistment, and moved back to Polk County in 1994. I worked full time while attending basic law enforcement training at Isothermal Community College. Upon successful completion of BLET, I was hired by the Tryon Police Department in October 1994.

With the exception of my time spent in the Navy, I have lived and worked within Polk County my entire life. I have a vested interest in serving and protecting the county I have always called home.

While with Tryon Police Department, I was fortunate enough to have leaders that encouraged me to further my education and training. I have always had a strong desire to advance my education, and I began setting goals in order to accomplish this.

Completing these goals took a tremendous amount of hard work, time and sacrifice. In December 2017, I earned my master’s degree in justice administration from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

My educational achievements are a testament to my ongoing desire to excel in my profession. This is just one area that sets me above any other candidate running for sheriff of Polk County.