Forsyth County’s coroner has become the third candidate to announce plans to run for Forsyth County sheriff.
Duane Piper, a former sheriff’s deputy, has also announced his intention to run against incumbent Ted Paxton.
“The current sheriff has served a purpose, but now it is time to seize the opportunity for a wave of new ideas,” said Lauren McDonald, 43. “An opportunity for a fresh set of eyes to take a look at the way the business of the office operates and make a positive change happen within and outside of the sheriff’s office.”
Paxton has said he plans to seek a fourth term but has not officially launched his campaign.
The general primary is set for July 31, while the general election will be Nov. 6.
McDonald said his campaign will focus on the positive aspects of the county’s future. His proposals include the establishment of a nine-member sheriff’s council of local business leaders. The panel would increase transparency of the office’s day-to-day operations, serve as a budget advisory council and improve ethics compliancy within the office. It would also play a vital role in the planning and development of the planned expansion of the jail.
Holding political office runs in the family. McDonald is the son of Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., a current member of the Georgia Public Service Commission and past gubernatorial candidate who previously served 20 years in the state House of Representatives.
If elected, McDonald said he plans to ensure constant dialogue between the office and various local officials, including the board of commissioners, County Manager Doug Derrer and Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt.
McDonald said a Forsyth County initiative similar to the state’s Highway Emergency Response Operators, or HERO, program, designed to assist at accidents, roadway cleanups and other major events, could help minimize the impact of such events on drivers.
McDonald said he plans to work with the commission and county human resources department to make sure sheriff’s deputies and other employees have an incentive to stay in Forsyth. He also said he wants deputies to be more involved in community activities, getting to know the residents they serve.
“Additionally, since the deputy is often the first on scene at a medical emergency, all patrol officers will be certified as first responders and carry an automated external defibrillator, AED, in their patrol cars,” McDonald said. “We need to be a ‘Heart Smart County.’ This would demonstrate the deputies’ commitment and pride in their jobs as well as provide better interaction and ultimately trust between the deputies and the citizens they serve.”
He said he also has plans to reduce the sheriff’s office budget and take a business approach to how it is run.
A15-year local resident, McDonald lives with his wife and three children in Forsyth County.
In addition to serving as coroner since 2001, McDonald has 24 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter and owns McDonald and Son Funeral Home and Crematory. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia, an emergency medical technician certificate from the Athens Technical Institute and a mortuary science degree from the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service.
A member of Cumming First United Methodist Church, McDonald is also member, past president and Paul Harris Fellow of the Lanier-Forsyth Rotary Club, a graduate of Leadership Forsyth’s class of 1998 and a member of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce.