Massee announces re-election bid, going for 40


Bill Massee announced this week that he indeed plans on seeking a 10th term as sheriff of Baldwin County.

"I still enjoy being sheriff as much as I ever had," Massee told the Union-Recorder.

Massee, first elected in 1988, is poised to become the longest-serving active sheriff in Georgia beginning next year. The current holder of that title – Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton – previously announced that he wouldn't seek a 14th term in 2024.

Qualifying week is next month, and it's not immediately clear if Massee will run unopposed. However, no one has challenged the sheriff since 2004. In the past, challenging Massee has not exactly been a great idea or a winning proposition. In 2004, Republican challenger Bob Williams received a mere 22 percent of the vote against Massee. In 2000, which was Williams' first try, he tallied 19 percent. Also that year, Massee had a challenger in the general election. That challenger – Bruce Specht – garnered only 21 percent against Massee. Finally, in 1996, Stann Lynn recorded 16 percent of the vote against Massee in the primary, while Allen Martin, Jr. managed a mere 14 percent in the general election.

Increasingly, the national news cycle casts a bright spotlight on officer-involved shooting deaths and instances of law enforcement officers killing civilians. During Massee's 35-year tenure, there has been one such occurrence here in Baldwin County. That occurred in the late '90s, when multiple deputies were attempting to serve a warrant at a mobile home on Lockwood Street. The suspect, who was located hiding in a closet, opened fire and struck one deputy, according to reports. Another deputy then returned fire, fatally wounding the suspect.

The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office continues to face the same sets of challenges as every other sheriff's office in the state. County jails have become the new mental hospitals, according to Massee, thanks to budget cuts and the de-institutionalization movement. Also, thanks to the sheer number of baby boomers, the inmate population also is becoming older. Massee said that his jail now "fields a complete, full-time medical staff," which is necessary to prevent inmate deaths and prevent lawsuits.

2024 will mark the second time that Massee will run as an independent, as opposed to a Democrat. For many years, Massee has insisted that the Sheriff's election should be non-partisan, similar to the local Probate Judge and School Board elections, where candidates do not have a "D" or an "R" beside their names on the ballot.

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