Four candidates running for Panola County sheriff

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PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — Four people are in the running for Panola County sheriff, including current sheriff Dennis Darby .

Darby waited until the last minute to file his qualification papers, and when WREG called him earlier in the day to ask him if he was running, he didn’t return our phone calls.

Darby came to circuit clerk’s office less than 30 minutes before the deadline. Some people who live in Panola County say they don’t understand why he waited until the last minute.

Darby says it’s important for him to run for sheriff.

“There’s so much corruption and bad going on and we’re after them and we will continue to do that, we’ve made over 1,000 felony arrests for drugs alone. We’ve taken a toll on gangs, we’re going to continue to come after them,” he said.

Mark Whitten was the first candidate to qualify. The former Panola County chief investigator spent 20 years with the department.

He’s already talking about major problems he wants to look into.

“Unsolved crimes, Unsolved homicides, that’s not Panola County, we’re better than that,” he said.

WREG also caught up with Panola County’s former sheriff Otis Griffin. WREG asked him why he’s running again.

“The drug situation, a lot of folk call and come to the house, I’ve got a great concern about that and safety, man we need safety here,” he said.

Judy Ray has lived there all her life .

She says the drug problem and the death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers who was set on fire are two major issues.

She hopes the next sheriff can help solve these crimes.

“The topic is Justice for Jessica and we want Justice for her and her family and everybody else in the community,” she said.

Darby says there’s a lot of agencies helping with the case and there are some things he says he can’t discuss right now.

Roger Vanlandingham is also running. He wasn’t available to talk on camera, but told WREG over the phone he’s hopeful he can do a good job.

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