With a crowded field in the race for this year’s Stone County Sheriff, candidates are seeking to distinguish themselves from one another in advance of the upcoming primary election.
The race will narrow next month as four candidates compete for the Republican nomination - Brad Breeding, David Burnett, Brandon Long, and Nathan Masterson.
The winner of that election will then face the other three candidates - who filed as Independents - in the general election this fall.
While every candidate on the primary ballot offers law enforcement experience, Brad Breeding (currently a patrol sergeant with the Stone County Sheriff’s Department) believes he brings a unique combination of education and experience.
“I have a college degree in psychology, as well as master’s hours in special education,” he said. “This is not to say I am better than anyone else, but it does show I completed a task. That fortitude and train of thought is required for the position.”
Breeding also noted he has worked in almost every position with the Stone County Sheriff’s Department, from dispatch and jailer to his current position as sergeant.
He also has experience managing large budgets and staff as owner of a successful entertainment agency in Mobile, Ala. This would serve him well as sheriff, which he noted is an administrative position.
“The position of sheriff is not a “Super Cop” position. A sheriff is an administrator,” Breeding said. “A sheriff manages county resources, funds, and personnel.”
David Burnett has the longest history as a law enforcement officer, having begun in Stone County in 1996, where he served as a jailer, deputy, investigator, and chief deputy.
He began working at Fairfield Bay in 2011 and became chief of police there in 2016.
In addition to his extensive work as an officer, he also has experience writing state and federal grants and managing large budgets and employees.
“That experience and hard-won knowledge sets me apart,” he said.
Burnett said the office of sheriff is absolutely both an administrative and law enforcement position.
“Both are equally necessary and important,” he said.
Burnett has also stated that he feels it is an advantage that he has not been a part of the most recent administration.
“I didn’t get my start with this administration or work for this administration,” he said. “This gives me a better perspective on what needs to be done to bring the sheriff’s office to where it needs to be.”
Brandon Long, who currently serves as a deputy in Cleburne County, said his unique qualification is a true love and passion to do the job and serve our community.
Long is a native of the Newnata area, where he grew up working on a cattle and poultry farm, as well as helping his father in construction. He attended Ozarka College and North Arkansas College and began his career at the Stone County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer/dispatcher, going on to work as a patrol deputy and then as a detective in Cleburne County. He is also deputized with the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force and led a multi-phase operation that led to the seizure of a methamphetamine super lab.
He also stated that the sheriff’s role is both administrative and law enforcement.
“There is a fine balance between the two. However, I do not think that the sheriff is solely limited to just one role, as it carries many responsibilities.”
“The sheriff is tasked with being a leader and placed in an administrative law enforcement position to oversee that all aspects of the department operate smoothly and collaboratively,” he said. “ ... I don’t think the role of sheriff is to be writing seatbelt tickets or running radar on the side of the roadway but I do believe that the Sheriff should be involved and assist or lead in investigations concerning thefts, homicides, rapes, narcotics, etc.”
Nathan Masterson said his potential for longevity is what sets him apart as a candidate.
“I have a young family, and I can potentially serve the citizens of Stone County for 20-30 years. I am not here to serve a few years to draw retirement,” Masterson said.
Masterson graduated from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in 2020 and has been a Stone County deputy for the past two years. He also worked at the Calico Rock prison for 13 months.
“As a younger man, I would like to see deputies sticking around long term, as I plan to. I will implement a tier program which will reward officers for time at the department, as well as certifications.”
Masterson said he believes the sheriff is an administrator, and he/she directs law enforcement to serve the public. He would like to make better use of the free education that is available for deputies.
“It’s important that we continue training our deputies, as it’s not only beneficial for them but also the community that we serve,” he said.
Read the full story in the April 13 issue.
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