Randolph County sheriff candidates go head-to-head in forum

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- At a forum hosted by the Courier-Tribune Thursday night, six Randolph County candidates for County Commissioner and two candidates for Sheriff took the stage weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

In a heated race for the Sheriff's seat, Libertarian candidate Eric Hicks and Republican candidate Greg Seabolt fielded questions about opioid use in the county, restructuring the department and whether teachers should be armed to keep schools safe.

“If that’s something that our school board wants to communicate with us and the sheriffs office and we can vet teachers, and we can make that a solution that’s reasonable, we’ll go for it and see what’s available,” Hicks said.

“I don’t believe it’s the teacher’s responsibility to carry guns, I believe that’s our responsibility and we’re going to do it,” Seabolt said during a rebuttal.

Voters listened in as both candidates were also asked about their conduct online, particularly on social media. Hicks was asked about his posts in a group about crime in the county, just days after Asheboro attorney Charles Browne filed a criminal summons against him. Hicks is accused of cybertstalking and making false statements about Browne.

“He’s attacked me for months and months," Hicks said to the crowd. "He’s attacked Sheriff Graves. I hurt the man’s feelings and he wants to use the court to fight his battle … so if y’all could just pray for him."

Seabolt answered questions about an SBI investigation confirmed by the Courier-Tribune involving a Facebook post with information about a planned raid by law enforcement.

“I wasn’t the only officer that shared it. There’s several other officers on that Facebook page that shared it. Many more liked it,” Seabolt said.

Hicks replied that he wouldn't have wanted that information shared, and that he believed it may have put officers in danger.

“It’s just like your freedom of speech, Mr. Hicks, which you stretch to the max and then when someone else does something you want to criticize it,” Seabolt said.

Supporters of both candidates said Thursday the back-and-forth in recent weeks would not affect their decisions as voters.

Earlier in the night, commissioner candidates for three districts answered questions about high euthanasia rates at the county's animal shelter, opioid use, and the 1,900 acre Greensboro-Randolph megasite.