MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 2, 2012

Fisher, McFarland face off in Cherokee County sheriff race

The race for Cherokee County sheriff pits an eight-year incumbent running on a record of progress against an independent with a long law enforcement background.

Norman Fisher, seeking a third term, faces independent V. Kevin McFarland, a self-employed former officer, deputy and jail administrator.

Fisher cruised through June’s primary election, taking 55.56 percent of the vote. Fisher’s closest competitor, Charley Batt, finished with just 21.23 percent of the vote.

Fisher said he believes he’s made good on the promise he made in 2004 to give Cherokee County a sheriff’s office voters can be proud of.

“I believe we’ve made good on that promise,” Fisher said.

McFarland said he’s heard complaints from county residents saying there’s not enough deputy presence rurally.

“I intend to have the largest force of reserve officers I can get,” McFarland said. “The county budget, well, there’s just not enough money there to hire a whole bunch of full-time deputies.

“But we’ll have a well-trained, well-educated staff of reserve deputies that should have an effect.”

Fisher said the biggest problems facing Cherokee County are long-running, intertwined issues.

“The biggest problems I see are our county budget, the drug problem and burglaries,” Fisher said. “The economy has an effect on all of them.”

Fisher said the county budget — economically affected — determines how much money the sheriff’s office can appropriate toward effective crime fighting. The economy, Fisher said, also has an effect on county residents and their jobs.

“Some turn to crime as a way to support themselves when they lose their jobs,” Fisher said. “It has also been shown that a lot of crimes, including burglary, are committed to help pay for drugs.”

McFarland said he would immediately move deputies onto some of the county’s more high-profile missing persons and unsolved crimes. He also said his time as a jail administrator and as a business owner gives him budgeting experience not many sheriff candidates have.

“I have a lot of experience to draw on,” McFarland said. “When I was a reserve officer, I took the best features from every officer I rode with. That’s how I became Officer McFarland.

“I’ll do the same thing as sheriff.”

Fisher said he plans on continuing his office’s technological transition, and to continuing a multi-agency partnership he said has helped lower crime.

“I have always believed agencies are more successful when they share resources,” Fisher said. “Our partnerships have resulted in a large number of state and federal prosecutions.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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