Candidates split on pistol permits

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just how far should the Second Amendment go?

Candidates for Covington County sheriff have slightly different views on the need for pistol permits, voters learned in a forum sponsored by the county GOP in Florala last night.

Both incumbent Dennis Meeks and challenger Chris Byrd were asked whether or not they would support a law that allowed mentally competent citizens without a felony conviction to carry a handgun without a permit.

Byrd, a former Covington County sheriff’s deputy, said he would be in favor of such a law, while Meeks said he would err more on the side of careful regulation.

“Absolutely I would,” Byrd said in response to the question from moderator Walt Merrell. “That gets at the heart of the sheriff having the discretion to issue the permits.”

Byrd said he would support such legislation over any arrangement that challenges citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Meeks also spoke out in favor of the Second Amendment, but told audience members not everyone is fit to carry a weapon.

“I have some mixed emotions about that,” Meeks said. “I am not opposed to someone carrying a firearm, but laws are there for a reason to help regulate that. Just because someone hasn’t been convicted of a felony, doesn’t mean they’re not out their committing felony crimes.”



Incumbent coroner Norman Hobson touted his experience, while challenger Wilson “Eddie” Rowell promised compassion.

“I feel that I’m a very compassionate person that has a lot of medical experience to draw from having been a paramedic,” Rowell said. “I just hope you will give me the chance to put it to use as your next coroner.”

Hobson also noted the importance of dealing with loss in a caring manner, but also pointed to his management of the office as a mark in his favor.

“I have been in this office for 25 years and investigated more than 3,000 deaths,” Hobson said. “During my time, I’ve run my office with very minimum expense to the taxpayer. I haven’t asked for a raise in 25 years, and if I’m elected again, I don’t intend to ask for one.”


Revenue commissioner, BOE

Voters also heard from the five candidates vying to replace Janice Hart as revenue commissioner.

Gwen Kelley, Meredith Peters, George “Chuck” Patterson, Cindy Cook and Lorene McCart each promised to implement electronic payments and use experience appraising homes and property to serve in the position.

In the County Board of Education race for Place 5, incumbent Jimmy Prestwood pointed to his 24 years on the board as needed experience, but challenger

Terry Holley pointed out he also has 36 years in education, including 24 as a principal and time as superintendent.


Tuesday night’s event was the last of three GOP forums held prior to the June 3 party primary.