The 2012 Forsyth County Sheriff’s election became a contest Thursday when Duane Piper announced he will challenge incumbent Ted Paxton.
The General Primary is set for July 31, while the General Election will be Nov. 6.
Piper retired in October to run his campaign after 16 years with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
The 25-year law enforcement veteran officially announced he would seek the post Thursday night during a meeting of the Forsyth County Tea Party.
“I’m running for sheriff because our citizens deserve a more effective sheriff’s office, a sheriff’s office that is managed efficiently, and a sheriff’s office that is transparent financially,” Piper told the group of about 60.
Paxton said Friday he does plan to seek a fourth term, but has not officially launched his campaign.
“I will be running for re-election,” Paxton said. “Right now, I’m just doing my job.”
Thursday night, Piper said the office’s budget, which is about 41 percent of the county’s general fund budget, is larger than it needs to be. Furthermore, it’s not clear where the money is spent.
“The first pledge I’ll make to our county, our citizens, is that I’ll provide a detailed account of every dollar spent in the sheriff’s office, including seized funds and fees taken,” Piper said.
“I’ll provide this accounting at the end of every budget year prior to asking for the next year’s budget.”
The Forsyth County commission approves the amount of the sheriff’s budget each year, but the sheriff has discretion as to where that money is spent.
The 2012 approved budget is about $37.5 million, an overall increase of about 4 percent from the $36 million approved for this year.
Paxton said he will respond to any of Piper’s campaign issues “when the appropriate time comes.”
For now, the sheriff said, his record during the past 11 years stands for itself.
“We have transformed the sheriff’s office into a very professional and respected sheriff’s office,” Paxton said. “It is my goal to continue to do that.”