Johnson endorses Beickert for Currituck sheriff
By Jon Hawley
Saturday, September 9, 2017
BELLS ISLAND — Chief Deputy Matt Beickert officially declared his candidacy for sheriff of Currituck County on Saturday — and he's got his boss’ seal of approval.
Among those in attendance at a gathering of Republicans at the Bells Island Campground for Beickert’s announcement was the county’s current sheriff, Susan Johnson, a registered Democrat.
Johnson, who previously announced she would not seek re-election next year, praised Beickert's service to the department, saying he's proven himself the right person to succeed her. He's worked at the department for 20 years, she said, rising up the ranks from patrol deputy to her right-hand man as chief deputy.
“During his 20 years, I could see he was ambitious, happy to learn everything he could about law enforcement, and had a deep concern for doing things the right way, not the easy way,” Johnson said of Beickert. “He is qualified, prepared, and well-groomed to be your next sheriff.”
Beickert said he plans to file as a Republican candidate for sheriff in early 2018 when the filing period for the March party primaries opens.
“I want our office to reach new heights,” he said.
During his speech, Beickert strongly praised the department's current employees and said he wanted to build on the department's successes. His focus, he said, will be on building stronger relationships between law enforcement and the public. Such “community policing” approaches help prevent unrest and crime that have affected other communities, he said.
“What I want to stress, and what I hope we'll be able to do and continue to do, is have a personal connection with our community,” Beickert said.
Deputies should have the mindset that they're a “stakeholder (in a community), not just a caretaker,” he added.
Beickert already appears to enjoy support from many of those deputies he hopes to lead. The event's emcee, Cameron Tabor, recognized numerous deputies present for Saturday’s event. Beickert said he didn't ask they attend — nor would it have been appropriate for him to do so — but was humbled by the show of support.
Following his speech, Beickert said he wanted to see deputies attend more community events and build more one-on-one relationships with citizens.
“Knowing people by name; we're small enough we can still do that,” he said.
Noting a connection between poverty and crime, Beickert also suggested he'd like to see the Currituck Sheriff’s Department help connect people with services they might need, such as help writing resumes or assistance enrolling at College of The Albemarle to pursue their GED diploma.
Johnson, who has served as Currituck sheriff for 17 years and whose current term doesn’t end until December 2018, said Saturday she hasn't decided if she plans to step down early. If she did so, Beickert would likely become the leading candidate to succeed her. Currituck commissioners would have to appoint a sheriff to complete Johnson’s term.
Several other elected officials were present for Saturday's event as well, including state House Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, and District Court Judge Meador Harriss, a formerly unaffiliated voter who has changed his registration and will file as a Republican when he seeks re-election in Judicial District 1.