CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRES: CHATHAM COUNTY SHERIFF

Mike Roberson, candidate for Chatham County Sheriff

Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Making high quality community journalism isn’t free — please consider supporting our journalism by subscribing to the News + Record today.

Unlimited Digital Access begins at $4.67/month

Print + Digital begins at $6.58/month

Posted
Updated:

Mike Roberson

Age:

Lives in Pittsboro

Occupation: Sheriff of Chatham County

Campaign website/social media: www.mikerobersonforsheriff.com

Work history & accomplishments can be found here: https://mikerobersonforsheriff.com/accomplishments/

Party affiliation: Democratic

Current and previous elected offices held or sought & terms you served: Sheriff of Chatham County (2016-present)

Why are you seeking this office? The Sheriff’s Office operates within a diverse population; I want to ensure that we continue to hire, equip and train a professional workforce that is representative of the community we serve. I believe in treating everyone like family in the same situation; I have worked diligently to build and maintain positive relationships with community members by listening and remaining open to ideas. I love helping people and want to continue to serve my home community. I look forward to building on the successes we have already accomplished together and will continue to unite residents around shared goals and values.

What makes you the best candidate on the ballot? I believe in uniting residents to make Chatham County stronger. I’m a Chatham County native and consider my home the best place in the world! I met my wife in first grade and we have two adult children. I’ve served as a firefighter, EMT, juvenile officer, jail administrator and Chief Deputy. I was unanimously appointed Sheriff in 2016 and elected by the residents of Chatham County in 2018. I believe in treating people like family and have a proven record of leadership, community partnership, and achieving positive results with the help of the best staff in the state. 

Give us a job description you’d write for yourself if you’re elected to this seat: A great sheriff is not perfect, but is willing to learn and grow. A sheriff must listen to the community and hold themselves accountable to the people; a sheriff should be part of the community and lead from within it through word and deed. A sheriff should be accessible, fair, and unbiased as well as willing and able to adapt to change. A sheriff must uphold the constitutional rights of all, follow the law, and treat everyone like family in the same situation. He or she should hire, equip and train professional, compassionate staff, representative of the community served.

What three specific, measurable and attainable goals would you pursue if elected? 

Keep Chatham one of the safest counties in the state of North Carolina; increase the value and availability of programming and services available at the Animal Resource Center (ARC); and maintain positive relationships with the diverse community we serve in Chatham County.

What are the biggest challenges in Chatham and/or N.C. right now — and how would you address them? Explosive growth. We have to anticipate as much as possible the increasing and changing needs of the developing population and prepare for it as best we can with the resources and support available. Chatham County is essentially building towns in unincorporated areas of the county, and the residents of these towns will significantly increase demand for various services we currently provide; they will also bring with them their own expectations, needs, and ideas for new or expanded services, which we must be willing to consider and seek to fulfill while faced with limited funding and manpower.

Chatham County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. What do you see as the major challenges/opportunities coming from this growth and how would you address them? 

Some challenges could include different values and cultures placing emphasis on some services or programs more than others; we have experienced multiple major health crises simultaneously (opioid abuse and COVID) which have amplified the need for accessible mental health services across our state. However, we’ve embraced the opportunity to expand victim services for families, partner with mental health and recovery professionals, and adjust staffing to accommodate higher call volume during peak hours. We will continue to listen and be attentive to the needs of the public and respond compassionately, professionally, and to the best of our ability in each situation.

What’s your overall view of the role of the elected body you’re seeking to join? Is it fulfilling its mission now? If not, what needs to change? 

Elected officials may not always see eye to eye, but it’s healthy to have respectful discussions exploring differing perspectives; diversity of thought/opinion helps us improve and fully assess the bigger picture and available options. As Sheriff, I will continue to serve this community with my whole heart and listen to residents’ ideas/concerns in order to best meet differing needs and expectations. I will continue to hire talented staff who set the bar for excellence in their field, and will collaborate with other agencies, non-profit organizations, and stakeholders/partners to implement strategies for a safe, healthy, bright future for Chatham County. 

As Sheriff, what is your plan to address vacant positions within the department and retain existing staff?

As always, the Sheriff’s Office will fill any vacant positions with qualified applicants. As Sheriff, I will continue to hire, equip, and train the best staff in the state of North Carolina! This career field is not for everyone, and not all applicants are able to meet our rigorous professional standards; we believe in hiring compassionate, capable, and accountable leaders who are committed to and representative of the diverse community they serve.

Address the county’s crime rate — particularly drug-related crimes — and strategies you will employ, as sheriff, to curtail crime and the county’s illicit drug trade.

Chatham County continues to have one of the lowest crime and incarceration rates in the state. This is a testament to the strength of our shared community and to the teamwork and partnerships actively working behind the scenes to prevent crime and reduce drug addiction. Almost a decade ago, there was a nationwide surge in the number of overdose deaths which were later linked to opioids or their derivatives. No community could escape this wave forever, including Chatham County. The opioid epidemic hit us hard in 2013 (and has never gone away), but we have taken steps to mitigate the effects of the crisis by focusing on prevention, targeting underlying causes of addiction, expanding resources to treat addiction and break the cycle, and networking with community leaders and residents to better meet their needs. As Sheriff, I will continue to support these efforts and save lives.

Marcus Globuschutz has criticized Sheriff Roberson for his use of department staff, claiming the Sheriff is more focused on public relations (and things like staff appearances at public events) rather than focusing on actual problems the office should address. Please address this issue…

Law enforcement cannot effectively address the needs of the community without being engaged, accessible, and present at important community functions. Too often, law enforcement agencies attempt to operate or affect change separate from their communities, with disastrous consequences. Simply put, the greatest good can be accomplished by working together with residents, from the inside out. Our staff members recognize that we cannot resolve issues or prevent crime without the partnership of community members; we will continue to show our love for this community by supporting efforts, events, and causes that elevate and uplift Chatham County as a whole.

The county’s Animal Resource Center falls under the purview of the Sheriff’s Office. Please talk about the ARC and its role and what strategies you’d employ to make it operationally efficient…

The Sheriff’s Office Animal Resource Center (ARC) is making a positive impact for animals and families across the county. Euthanasia rates have been cut in half and adoption rates have doubled since the Sheriff’s Office annexed the division June 2019. We are currently in the process of expanding our programs and services and have partnered with a number of animal experts, medical professionals, businesses, rescue groups, non-profits, educators and volunteers to take our vision for the ARC to the next level! Thanks to such partnerships, we have been able to provide unprecedented outreach to the community, including free or low-cost vaccinations, microchipping/tagging services, training, and pet supply distribution to those in need. We hope to add additional staff to help streamline medical treatment and intake, expand existing programs (including our volunteer program), and increase education and lives saved each month through successful placement/rescue and compassionate care.

What’s the most important resource of the department, and how, in your view, is the best way to utilize it?

Our most important resource is always people… both our employees and community members; we are two sides of the same coin and each have a role to play in maintaining the safety and security of Chatham County. Our staff members have worked diligently and consistently to earn and maintain a healthy, positive, and trusting relationship with residents. In turn, those same residents have helped us solve countless crimes and bring lawbreakers to justice. As Sheriff, I will continue to hire the right people for this incredibly demanding job. Our employees are high-quality, professional, and compassionate individuals who have the heart and mindset necessary to treat others with kindness, dignity, and respect, regardless of the situation. We will continue to find ways to join together with the community to address any concerns and further our shared goals for a bright future.

What are the most important values that you, as Sheriff, would/do employ as the leader of the Sheriff’s Office?

The core values of our office are fairness, integrity, teamwork, community, professionalism, and leadership. I expect all employees to live by these values and uphold them daily. Beyond that list, I also highly value trust, humanity, and continual learning. As Sheriff, I often remind my staff members that we must strive for personal and professional growth in all that we do, and always treat others like family in the same situation. I expect humans to make mistakes—employees included—but I also expect them to own up to those mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. In this way, we all have an opportunity to learn and make better decisions in the future. As Sheriff, I will continue to listen and encourage open communication with residents in order to learn, grow, and effectively respond to changing needs, expectations, and ideas as Chatham County enters into a period of rapid development and numerous adjustments in coming years.

Do you believe the 2020 Presidential election produced fair and legitimate results? (Please respond with a “yes” or “no” answer, then, if desired, you have 100 words to support your response.) 

Yes, I believe in the power and legitimacy of the democratic process. However, it is essential that our voting methods be fair, consistent, and inclusive in order to achieve true representation of all people, not only a select few. I believe residents shoulder an incredible responsibility and duty to vote, and there is no such thing as an insignificant election. Voters should make their voices heard at the polls at every opportunity and never take such extraordinary decision-making opportunities for granted.

Fast facts:

Political/government hero: Colin Powell

Favorite book: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Book most recently read: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Favorite film: Too difficult to narrow down, but I prefer comedies I can enjoy with my family

Hobbies: Helping others through volunteering; sawmilling; and farming.

Community/civic involvement: I’ve spent a lifetime serving my community and I’m not done yet! I’m a Master Mason, 2nd Vice President of the NC Sheriff’s Association, and regularly partner with local leaders, non-profits, stakeholders and business owners to give back to Chatham County and its residents. 

Favorite thing about Chatham County: I love the people I serve and stunning natural spaces available to us to enjoy in peace and tranquility.

Personal motto or one-line philosophy: “Treat everyone like family in the same situation.”

Strongest childhood ambition: To be a part of a team and to serve my community.

Most significant life goal you’ve accomplished: My beautiful wife of 35 years and I have raised two beautiful, successful children right here in Chatham County. Nothing fills me with more pride than seeing my family living happy, healthy lives in pursuit of their dreams.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here