Gentry kicks off 2018 campaign in style


Sheriff Gentry addresses the crowd to kick off his re-election campaign on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at the Cullman Civic Center. / W.C. Mann

CULLMAN – On Saturday, Republican Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry officially kicked off his 2018 re-election campaign with a community celebration at the Cullman Civic Center.  Guests were treated to free barbecue dinners, and Round 2 provided live entertainment.

With the campaign season underway, other local incumbents came out to join in the fun and shake a few hands, including Cullman County Commissioners Garry Marchman and Kerry Watson, and State Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope, among others.  Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill even came up from Montgomery.

Merrill took the stage to endorse Gentry’s run, saying, “I have a chance to get to know the sheriffs from all over the state.  I have a chance to see the programs that are going on all over the state of Alabama.  And one of the things that I have become convinced of, without any effort at all, is what an outstanding job Matt Gentry is doing.  Not only is he bringing new technology, new innovations for programs, efforts in crime stopping to Cullman County, but, with the Sheriff’s (Citizens’) Academy that they’ve implemented, with the enhancement of the rodeo opportunity, with all of the things that they’re doing, they’re setting a standard and a precedent that other communities in the state of Alabama are choosing to follow.”

Gentry himself addressed the audience, telling the crowd, in part, “One of the things I believe in is our community.  I had somebody ask me the other day, and they said, ‘Are you getting ready to run for sheriff again?’ And they said, ‘What do you like about it the most, running for office?’  I said, ‘Well, what I like about it is we live in the greatest county in the state of Alabama, hands down.’  We live in the greatest county, and it’s because of our people.”

As folks lined up to get their barbecue, the sheriff took a moment to speak to The Tribune.

What do you want people to remember about your first term?

“The biggest thing is that we had a mission and a vision, and we accomplished those goals.  The mission was to return the office of sheriff back to the people.  The vision we had: what we wanted to do for drug enforcement, and what we wanted to do with sex offenders, what we wanted to do with the victims’ service deputy.  

“And setting that tone, the drug offenders: we worked on all levels–you know, from the lower level to the upper level.  In the history of Cullman County, we have our first federal indictment on a murder charge for a guy that sold drugs out of Birmingham, and we had a victim in Cullman County.  That’s never been done before, and that’s why we’re proud.  

“Sex offenders: we went from checking them once a year to homes, to we check them every month.  We’re doing over 3,000 checks a month, to make sure that they’re in compliance with the law.

“The victims’ service deputy: you know victims–everybody thinks about the bad guy.  Everybody thinks about that, but nobody thinks about the victims.  And so our victims service deputy was a very, very important position that we ran on, that we would create: for somebody that handles victims and their problems, because they’re always left out in the process.

“But that’s not going to stop.  I mean, what we have tried to accomplish: returning the office of sheriff back to the people, all of our community-oriented events–whether it’s Citizens’ Academy, firearms safety classes, the trainings that we do–everything is about the community.  And that’s what we want to accomplish, because with the community we gain strength.

“But for us, this is just a beginning of what we want to accomplish this next term.  You know, we’re looking at a vision of what we can do to enhance what we’re already doing, and then what can we do that’s new that will help affect the community in a positive manner.  And that’s very important to us.”

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