The hottest race for county office at the moment is that for Pulaski County Sheriff, with no fewer than four candidates having formally announced their candidacy.
The latest is Pulaski County Deputy Sheriff David Wesley, who -- like fellow candidates Todd Dalton, Bobby Jones and Troy McLin -- is seeking the Republican nomination in the May 2022 Primary.
"My number one priority is the safety of the men, women, and children of Pulaski County," the deputy said.
Wesley was 21 when he was hired by the late Sheriff Sam Catron back in 1987 as a dispatcher. He became a part-time deputy two years later while continuing to work with his parents, Bobby and Carolyn Wesley, in the family furniture store.
Wesley purchased Carolyn's Furniture from his parents in 1999 but continued pursuing law enforcement even as he ran a successful multimillion-dollar business. After his mentor Catron was assassinated in 2002, Wesley obtained his pilot's license at his own expense so that he could keep the department's helicopter in the air.
"Everyone who knew Sam knows how much he loved to fly the helicopter; we had many discussions about how the Sheriff's Office needed another pilot," Wesley said. "From 2002 through 2006, I flew the helicopter as a volunteer -- aiding officers on the ground with everything from pursuits, missing persons, stolen vehicles, to searching for illegal drugs."
After seven years, Wesley sold Carolyn's Furniture to return full time to his "true passion" of law enforcement. He told the Commonwealth Journal that he's turned down promotions so that he could continue as a road deputy -- being out in the county and helping people.
"Each call that I respond to is unique, some are heartbreaking, and some are uplifting, but regardless in some way, I have helped someone," Dep. Wesley said. "Being on the road for so many years has enabled me to understand better what needs to be done to help the Sheriff's Department better serve the community."
One of his goals, if elected, is to work with the Pulaski County Board of Education to ensure that each school has an SRO (School Resource Officer). Wesley said three more would be needed to cover all the elementary schools. He would also like a full-time grant writer to help secure what the sheriff's budget can't cover.
"Obtaining grants will be an essential part of my administration," Wesley said. "These monies will be used to fund positions and purchase equipment that our annual budget doesn't cover. I plan to hire two county safety officers that will help with school traffic congestion and funeral processions. Parents don't have time to sit in traffic and every individual deserves an escort to their final resting place. Lastly, those safety officers will aid motorists with unlocking keys, flat tires, and car trouble assistance."
Retaining deputies is another goal, with Wesley pledging to work with county government to ensure a "livable wage."
"I will make sure that staffing doesn't impact your safety and that when you need a deputy, one will be available and can get to you quickly," he said.
To combat drugs, which Wesley calls the county's biggest problem, he plans to establish a narcotics task force as well as educational programs aimed at children "to break the cycle of addiction."
Dep. Wesley added that a successful department must have transparency and accountability. If elected, he plans to hold community meetings to hear concerns and know what specific areas require more attention.
"If the citizens of Pulaski County elect me Sheriff, I will be fair, I will work hard, I will be accessible, I will be accountable, I will be respectful, I will never stop learning, I will never forget each citizen has a name, and most importantly, and I will be a Sheriff that works for you," he said.
Wesley and his wife Stacy, who serves as chief paralegal for the 28th Judicial Circuit Office of Commonwealth's Attorney, make their home in Somerset.