LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Livingston Parish voters will elect a new sheriff on October 24. There are two names on the ballot. Jason Ard, is the incumbent looking to be elected for a second term. His challenger, Eric McNeil, says he decided to run after what he calls attacks on his family.
"It's not about me, I'm just the name and face. It's about my deputies and what they do every day and what we do as a team," said Ard.
The current sheriff says there was no real question about whether he would run again for the job. He says he's spent a lifetime in law enforcement. Working his way up from a deputy and into the administrative side of the parish sheriff's office.
"God called me to do this job," he said.
That calling, Sheriff Ard says, is to protect the people in the parish he grew in. Ard says he graduated from Walker High School. He added his parents and grandparents grew up in Livingston.
He feels accomplished a number of goals in the past four years. Things like contracting with the school board to provide security and mentoring, getting rid of some administrative positions and turning them into an additional 14 enforcement positions. Ard says they also did created a burglary and theft division, which he says was division of crime that was not getting the needed attention.
"Developed a burglary theft unit, doing that we started seeing the numbers grow. We had in the thousands when it came to arrests. Three to four thousand burglaries being solved."
Eric McNeil, the challenger, says Ard has a lot of supporters but he is also gaining supporters.
McNeil is a Watson resident. He says he's lived in the parish since he was 14. Over the summer, he added his name to the race. He does not have a law enforcement background. For the last 13 years, he's been in the A/C business.
McNeil says two run-ins with Livingston deputies led to his decision to run. Both issues are still in court and involve the sheriff's officers. He said had it not been for those things, he says he probably would not be opposing Ard. He says he feels the current leadership is not fair. Something he says would change if he's voted in.
"I'd probably start from getting rid of detectives up and revamping. Starting fresh," McNeil said. "Be more in with the public, in with the people. Listen to what everybody got to say and treat them with fairness."
McNeil says he's heard from hundreds of other people who feel the same about the current leadership.
"I'm new to this whole campaign thing, but I'm making a change just to run."
Both candidates have differing opinions on law enforcement. One hoping his record speaks to voters, the other hoping voters want a change.