Meads endorses Jones in Camden sheriff's race

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Camden County candidate for sheriff Kevin Jones.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

CAMDEN — Camden Sheriff Rodney Meads says the county’s next sheriff should be the man who defeated him in the May 8 Republican primary.

Meads said last week he’s asking voters to cast their ballot for Republican Kevin Jones for Camden sheriff in the Nov. 6 general election. Jones, a N.C. Highway Patrol trooper, faces Democrat Rick Trevena in the sheriff’s race.

Meads, who lost the GOP primary to Jones by eight votes, said he’s backing his former opponent because Jones is originally from Camden and because he believes Jones is more familiar with North Carolina law. He also believes Jones will have a shorter learning curve if he’s elected sheriff.

Trevena is a lieutenant with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office in Norfolk, Virginia.

Meads said he and Jones also hold many of the same ideas and principles.

"I know that we both have strong concerns about our school security and how to attack that with additional SROs (school resource officers) just to help in that situation. I think we're on the same page with that," Meads said.

Meads also revealed that if Jones is elected sheriff, he’ll get his old job back as chief deputy. Meads served as chief deputy under former Camden Sheriff Tony Perry until Perry’s retirement in March. Meads was then appointed sheriff by the Camden Board of Commissioners to finish the remainder of Perry’s unexpired term that ends in December.

Meads, who had been endorsed by Perry to succeed him, said that after the GOP primary, he and Jones “made it a point to get together probably four times and have some good sit-down conversations."  

Meads said he knows voting for Jones might be hard for some of his closest supporters, particularly given the close margin of the primary vote. He said the election could have gone either way and the fact the result was so close shows citizens' confidence was about the same in both candidates.

"So, I look at it as a win-win situation with both of us teaming up and being at the sheriff's office, regardless of who the sheriff is, whether it was to be him or I," he said.

Reached last week, Jones said he chose Meads as his chief deputy after thinking about who he’d like to have in the role if he won election on Nov. 6. 

"He's well-respected in Camden County," Jones said. "He has run the department. The employees, the deputies under his command respect him."

Jones also believes having Meads as chief deputy would help him if he gets to make the transition from trooper to sheriff.

"I think as a whole Camden County is really going to benefit from Rodney staying on as my second in command," he said.

Trevena expressed criticism of Meads’ endorsement of Jones. He also took aim at Jones for promising to make Meads his chief deputy.

Noting his opponent has pledged to revamp the internal structure of the Camden Sheriff’s Office if elected, Trevena said that pledge will be “diluted” if Jones keeps the same chief deputy Perry had.

"How can we truly believe that there is going to be change within the department?" Trevena asked.

For his part, Perry said he doesn’t plan to endorse either Jones or fellow Democrat Trevena for sheriff.

"I endorsed Rodney Meads and he didn't win, so I'm not going to endorse anybody else," Perry said. "And I'm not going to say that I've got a preference." 

Perry said he hasn’t even decided yet whom he'll be voting for in the sheriff’s race.

"I'm just going to remain silent on it right now," he said.

Both Jones and Trevena had kind words for Perry on Friday.

"Since I have been a trooper in Camden County, when Perry was the sheriff, he has bent over backwards and really welcomed me as a trooper with open arms — and we really worked well together," Jones said.

Trevena also expressed appreciation to Perry for his 17 years of service to Camden.

"I've spoken and met with him in the past and I haven't sought an endorsement from him, although I feel that we have a good personal relationship," Trevena said.