Meet the Candidates: Gallia County Sheriff’s Race

Staff Report

Pictured at left, Republican incumbent Sheriff Matt Champlin and, at right, Democrat challenger Jimmy Spears. (Courtesy)

Pictured at left, Republican incumbent Sheriff Matt Champlin and, at right, Democrat challenger Jimmy Spears. (Courtesy)

Editor’s Note: As we approach the November General Election, the Gallipolis Daily Tribune will be running “Meet the Candidate” profiles, allowing those running for office in contested races to introduce themselves to voters. Each candidate was given the same word count parameters, then asked to provide background information on themselves and to answer the question “Why are you running for this office?”

GALLIA COUNTY — Today’s installment of “Meet the Candidates” focuses on the race for Gallia County Sheriff, which sees Republican incumbent Matt Champlin facing off against Democrat challenger Jimmy Spears.

Candidates and their responses to the Tribune’s request for information, are listed below in alphabetical order.

Matt Champlin

Background information

Matt Champlin, candidate for re-election to the office of Gallia County Sheriff, has served as the elected sheriff of Gallia County since January 2, 2017. Prior to assuming the office, Sheriff Champlin served as Lieutenant with the Gallipolis Police Department. Throughout his eighteen years of service with the police department, Sheriff Champlin was promoted twice, achieving the ranks of Sergeant and Lieutenant. With these promotions came new responsibilities including administrative duties such as agency scheduling, first line supervision, training and supervision of the agency’s special response team, training and supervision of the agency’s honor guard, oversight of the agency’s weapons and firearms training programs, as well as being responsible for the field training of new officers. Sheriff Champlin also served as a plain clothes narcotics investigator for over two years, and was a professional canine handler for over seventeen years.

Since taking office in 2017, Sheriff Champlin has focused on bringing resources to Gallia County by forming partnerships with organizations such as the United States Marshals Service, The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Through these working relationships, the citizens of Gallia County have benefited from an increased ability of the office to solve crimes and seek out criminals. Partnering with such agencies has created an environment of proactive policing, which has created statistically significant positive outcomes in overall crime reduction. Under his leadership, the Sheriff’s Office has worked diligently in concert with the Gallia County Prosecutor’s Office to seek justice for victims in Gallia County.

Why are you running for this office?

“My decision to first seek the office of Gallia County Sheriff in 2016 was not one I entered into lightly. During my years as a public servant in Gallia County, my focus has always been to train and prepare myself to be the best benefit to the people I serve and to challenge myself with new professional endeavors. After much conversation with trusted law enforcement professionals, I determined that my skill set would be an asset to the people of Gallia County and to the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. Whether coaching youth sports, or providing education in drug prevention or active shooter preparedness, I strive to prepare and provide the tools necessary for our community to build a better future.

“Having now completed the first three and a half years of my first term of office, my focus has been refined to ensuring that my office provides the best services to the citizens. Our goal as a collective agency is to continue to reduce crime in Gallia County. Since taking office, we have seen a decline in all victim related crimes paired with an increase in community policing initiatives. Additionally, we have focused on community outreach and building citizen relationships through initiatives geared towards one-on-one contacts between our staff and the citizens we serve.

“Creating positive infrastructure change within the community has also been a focus of my administration. One of the changes I have had the privilege of making happen is the building of a new county jail, set to begin construction next spring. Having laid the framework for this new endeavor, it is of the utmost importance to me that I be able to see it through to its inception and continue to bring about positive change needed in Gallia County.”

Jimmy Spears

Background information

My name is Jimmy Spears and I’m running for sheriff of Gallia County. Married to my wife of 22 years, Scherry, I have two children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, all of which I am very proud.

I have over 49 years of extensive, law enforcement background. I served as Chief of Police in Kentucky. I held the position of corporal, investigator, sergeant, and road patrol with the Gallia Sheriff’s Office.

In more recent years, I held the position of School Resource Officer for Gallia County Local Schools. Working with area youth is certainly very enjoyable, and I hope to expand on these programs that will benefit our schools.

I have also worked for the Middleport, Oak Hill and Rio Grande police departments, and for Erie County, Ohio.

During my time with the Gallia Sheriff’s Office, I was involved in establishing several community organizations. I helped initiate Project Life Saver that helps track individuals at risk for becoming disoriented in their surroundings, such as people affected by Alzheimer’s Disease or Autism. I was heavily involved in Neighborhood Watch Programs throughout the county, and senior resource programs, such as “Seniors and Law Enforcement Together” and the TRIAD Program, a nationally recognized cooperative effort of law enforcement agencies, senior citizens, and senior organizations, focused on reducing crimes against seniors. I feel if more citizens are involved in what is going on in our community, the better we can serve them. I enjoy being active in our community and interacting with citizens.

Why are you running for this office?

“I feel that I have the knowledge and experience to run the sheriff’s office and our jail in a structured manner, to better serve our citizens. I am dedicated to work on our county’s drug problem and encourage community involvement. Four years ago, we heard a lot of promises about fighting drugs. Today our county’s drug overdose rate is higher than it has ever been. Our fatal overdose occurrences have skyrocketed. I feel the drug epidemic has not been properly addressed by the current administration. And I want to fight this terrible drug plague! Vote for me on November 3rd, and I will fight it with everything we have, to end this cycle that has been allowed to go on for too long. Leadership is not about being the best. It is about making things better for all of you.

“Help make Gallia County a better place to live, a better place to raise our children, and a home we can all be proud of. I will do my best to bring respect back to our sheriffs office! I would greatly appreciate your support in 2020!”

Pictured at left, Republican incumbent Sheriff Matt Champlin and, at right, Democrat challenger Jimmy Spears. (Courtesy) at left, Republican incumbent Sheriff Matt Champlin and, at right, Democrat challenger Jimmy Spears. (Courtesy)

Staff Report