DUKE DONALDSON is seeking the republican nomination for sheriff of Grady County.
A career law enforcement officer in Cairo is making a second run for the office of Sheriff of Grady County, but this time under the banner of a different political party. Duke Donaldson is running for the county’s top law enforcement post saying he has ideas to make improvements in the way the office is run.
“I feel I have a better input on the younger generation, and I think I can do good for the county and the city of Cairo as far as attacking things I think we need to attack, such as drugs and gangs,” Donaldson says.
An officer with the Cairo Police Department since 1996, Donaldson worked as the community’s first school resource officer, a position he held for 23 years, and last year returned to the streets as a patrol officer.
If elected as sheriff, Donaldson says he would work on the professionalism and attitude of employees and improve the relationship between the sheriff’s office and city of Cairo police.
“You’ve got to be a team. If you’re in law enforcement and don’t work well with each other, that’s not a good thing. If you don’t communicate with each other, that’s not a good thing. You’ve got to be professional,” he says.
Donaldson says it’s important to promote the many talents of local children, not just those who are good at sports.
“We’ve got some talented kids here, but there’s no opportunities for them to showcase that,” he says. “I would encourage people to let kids be kids. If they’re talented at singing, let them sing. Just because I played football, my son doesn’t have to play football. When kids get discouraged, they get in trouble.”
Donaldson was a talented football player at Cairo High School who went on to play at Auburn University as wide receiver from 1984 to 1988. He also played baseball for Auburn through his junior year.
Donaldson completed his bachelor’s degree in criminology at Troy State University in 1989 where he worked as wide receiver coach until 1994. For the next year, he worked as a counselor at Autry State prison, then as a para-professional at Northside Elementary School in Cairo, 1995-1996.
When he’s not working in law enforcement, Donaldson is playing softball with Team Kitty F.B.I., a team that plays in tournaments all over the nation, he says.
He’s also campaigning, knocking on doors and meeting voters in the community.
Running as a republican this time, Donaldson contends politics is not important in law enforcement. He ran as a democrat four years ago, but says this time he wanted to switch parties. “It’s something that I felt like I wanted to do,” he says.
Donaldson, 53, resides at 1951 Oak Dr., and is the father of D.J. Donaldson, a 21-year-old son serving in the U.S. Army.
There are three other republicans seeking the party nomination for sheriff of Grady County, including incumbent Grady County Sheriff Harry Young, and challengers Steve Clark and Jared Evans. That election is May 19. The winner will face the sole democratic candidate Donald “Dickie” Thomas on Nov. 3.