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Campaign season officially begins for Craven County Sheriff race - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Campaign season officially begins for Craven County Sheriff race

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NEW BERN, N.C. -

We're a long way out from November, but the official campaign season has just begun.

On Monday candidates began filing their paperwork to run for the Craven County Sheriff's seat.

9 On Your Side sat down with each of the four candidates to find out who they think is best to lead.

The Craven County Sheriff's Office is an organization with an $8.2 million budget and 129 employees.

The current sheriff is among the four candidates vying to be its leader.

"I don't believe there's anybody more qualified to run this office than the person who's doing it already, and that's me," said incumbent Jerry Monette.

Monette, a Democrat, has been Craven County sheriff for the last 20 years. One of his main goals: fiscal responsibility.

"We're looking at ways to cut costs and save money, and also generate money," said Monette.

Republican Chip Hughes also wants to be sheriff.

"I have nothing but the utmost respect for Sheriff Monette, but I do believe it's time for a change," said Hughes.

Hughes served 15 years in law enforcement, including 14 with the state Highway Patrol. His top priorities: keeping schools safe and drug dealers off the streets.

"Driver training is going to be a priority as well. We're going to make sure that the men and women who are out there in these county vehicles receive the best driver training possible," said Hughes.

Two other candidates are also running, but haven't officially filed.

Eric Smith has 28 years experience in law enforcement, mostly with the State Bureau of Investigations. He says he is planning to file to run for sheriff this week.

"I've been a deputy sheriff, a police sergeant, a detective," said Smith.

His main goal: safety of everyone in Craven County.

"It's just an opportunity to serve. It's what I want to do. It's what I was born to do," said Smith.

Ernest Thomas says he's planning to file for sheriff next week. He has 24 years experience in law enforcement, including nine as a Craven County Sheriff's deputy. One of his main goals is to solve unsolved murders.

"I get no greater thrill in life than to be able to help somebody out," said Thomas.

The last day to file for sheriff is February 28. Election Day is November 4.

Financial documents from the board of elections office show that of the four candidates, only one has spent money on his campaign.

Documents say Hughes has spent about $16,500 on his campaign since forming his campaign committee.

Monette and Smith have collected hundreds of dollars in contributions, but have not spent anything on their campaign.

Thomas has not formed a campaign committee, so documents were not publicly available about his spending.

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