Sheriff's Race in Jefferson County Heats Up

KEARNEYSVILLE, WV - The sheriff's race in Jefferson County is picking up speed. On one side is Sheriff Bobby Shirley, on the other Republican contender Earl Ballenger, and in the middle is the dash cam video of a bank robber's arrest that's shaking things up.

Sheriff Shirley has spent 26 years on the force, and as sheriff he says he's accomplished one of his top goals: cracking down on drugs.

"I said from day one I was going to be hard on drugs," he says. "To date we have deposited $100,000, that we've seized from drug dealers. I financed this due to drug forfeiture money and we in turn now have four K9s."

But something else has taken a lot of attention: the federal charges he faces.

Convicted bank robber Mark Haines claims dash cam video shows the sheriff using unreasonable force against him. Shirley maintains his innocence, but can't speak about the case yet.

"I would ask the people in this county to at least believe in me and trust in me, until they've heard my side," Shirley says. "I was dealing with a threat to this community back in 2010 and as sheriff we are expected to pursue criminals, and I was dealing with a bank robbery that day and I pursued that person."

Republican contender Earl Ballenger is a 24-year veteran of the force.

"I've never ever believed that the citizens of the county have gotten the service that they should get, so I'm hoping I can change that perspective," Bellenger says.

Ballenger adds he wants to make improvements to the department.

"I've heard some things that I didn't necessarily like about the sheriff's department," says Ballenger. "That I was concerned about, the morale, complaints from people that they weren't necessarily responding to calls efficiently, those types of things."

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