HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Response from the local community grew heated in the days following the publication of an interview with Towns County sheriff’s candidate Linda Curtis, a retired Florida law enforcement officer who relocated to the region nearly a decade ago. Many Towns County residents reacted on social media, expressing contempt for the contender’s verbiage – “taking the trash out” – in referencing arrests on area drug charges. Others took equal offense to Curtis’s attack on fellow candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn, a lifelong resident of Towns County, comparing the 33-year law enforcement officer to a “monkey.”
“I don’t know you, but statements like this are stigmatizing and keep people that are lost in addiction from reaching out,” Stacie Ledford, President of Rock Bottom Recovery, responded in part. “Addiction is not a moral issue. Maybe you should make your platform one that promotes helping those fighting the battle instead of seeing them as trash. I am in recovery myself and was not and will never be trash. I would not vote for you as you would definitely discriminate against people with substance use disorders. And I would think you running as sheriff, you would want to help everyone.”
Ledford – who founded the inmate, addiction program in neighboring Clay County – stated that she previously discussed implementing a drug intervention program in Towns County per interest from candidate Osborn.
“There is not one person in this town that deserves to be called trash,” Resident Tammy Bradshaw replied online to Curtis. “You talked about lots of other things we need to fix but didn’t give any examples except for calling someone a monkey and making fun of body types…The problem with us ‘locals’ is not that we don’t want change. Our problem is being too trustworthy to new people that have their own agenda of change. Change to take over and change our town into the next crime-ridden, overpopulated, ignoring our culture and traditions all while putting a smile on their face and pretending to be doing their job, when in reality behind the scenes they are tearing down and destroying our way of life, our values. So, therefore, we tend to stick with the people we know or grew up with because even if they didn’t make any change, our values and traditions were left intact. There are certain things I will fight to never see change because it’s what makes this town so special. And I refuse to bow down to those who get offended because the majority of this town does not support whatever they are pushing.”
Sheriff’s candidate Daren Osborn informed that he intends to issue a social media statement, telling FYN that he is disappointed that the campaign cycle launched in a less-than-positive fashion. “I consider everyone a human being,” Osborn said in response to the controversy. “Some have issues that have taken control of their lives. As sheriff, I will be implementing programs to help these people, and I don’t consider them someone you throw away.”
Candidate Curtis, who voiced initial approval of FYN’s interview coverage, was “tagged” on social media by both Ledford and Bradshaw, but had not responded to concerns as of the afternoon of Jan. 11.
UPDATE: Both Curtis and Osborn issued responses on their Facebook pages following this publication.