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Candidate Profiles: Macon County Sheriff Candidates

Candidate Profiles for Macon County Sheriff Candidate Clay Bryson and Brent Holbrooks, the two candidates to respond to interview questions for The Southern Scoop News.

The Southern Scoop News sent the following email to all candidates for Macon County Sheriff and posted the same text on Facebook for full transparency:

As all of you know, I have made the decision to not cover the Macon County Sheriff’s Election. However, I have been asked to help share information about the candidates so what I have decided is to send every candidate this same email (everyone is copied) and leave it up to you if you want to respond or not.

What I am willing to do is to send all candidates the exact same questions, and these questions are basic “get to know you” questions and nothing more. I will then print each candidate’s response to the questions in their entirety. I will not edit, change, or omit anything. I give you my word that it will be printed exactly how it is submitted.

The format will look like this:

Question 1 (List Question)

Answer from candidate 1
Answer from candidate 2
Answer from candidate 3
Answer from candidate 4
Answer from candidate 5

so forth and so on. The order the candidate answers will appear will be determined by order responses are received. They will appear in the same order as they are returned to me.

You can chose to answer all of the questions, one or two of the questions, or none of the questions. That is your decision.

These same instructions will be posted on social media to let the public know the option that was given to candidates for full transparency.

The questions are listed below:

1) Give me a brief bio. Personal, Professional, Education.

2) Tell me about your political experience.

3) Why are you running for office?

4) If you were not running for office, which of the other candidates would you vote for and why?

5) Any closing words you want to say to voters.

Only Clay Bryson and Brent Holbrooks responded and here are their unedited responses.

1) Give me a brief bio. Personal, Professional, Education.

Bryson: “I am Captain Clay Bryson and I was born and raised in Macon County and have spent half of my life, 21 years to be exact, as a Law Enforcement Officer with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. I enrolled in Basic Law Enforcement Training at Southwestern Community College in the Fall of 1999 to begin my career and on April 11, 2000, On my 21st birthday, I took my Oath of Office with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. In January of 2005 I received his first promotion within the agency and have spent the last 21 years working in various capacities and now serves as Captain over Patrol.

Throughout my career, I served in many roles within the Sheriff’s Office, first as a patrol deputy. From there, I then began working my way through the ranks as a corporal, sergeant, first sergeant, narcotics investigator, SWAT commander, K9 Supervisor/ Trainer, and now as Captain over Patrol.
My wife Ariel and I have been married since 2014 and currently reside in the Cullasaja Community of Macon County. I am the proud father of four daughters and in 2019 became a grandfather for the first time. My family and I attend Community Bible Church in Highlands and am an active member of the community I love so much.”

Holbrooks: “My name is Brent and I am running for Sheriff of Macon County 2022. Many of you already know me, my personality, and my character through our personal interactions over the years. But for those who do not, I wanted to give you a glimpse into who I am and why I am requesting your support. Some of you know me as Deputy Holbrooks and more recently as Lieutenant Holbrooks, others know me as “COACH”. Some of you know me as Sarah’s husband or April’s brother, but I am proud to say that most of you know me simply as Brent.

I born 45 years ago and raised right here in Macon County. Growing up in Franklin, I attended public school in the Franklin area until my late high school days; when I chose to attend and graduate from Military School; I graduated from the Academy in 1994. The mission of this school is to produce prograrn graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed productive citizens. I am pleased to say that the academy did a lot of good for me because I moved back to Macon County eager to pursue a career in law enforcement and was very focused on attaining my goals. I worked for the of Franklin While I eagerly awaited my 21 birthday, when I could begin the BLET program. I obtained my law enforcement certification from Southwestern Community College and I began working at the Macon County Sherrif’s Department in 1999. I left in 2004 to learn a new trade, but I knew that I would return to the law enforcement; and I did just that in 2008. I returned back as road patrol officer and shortly thereafter, I was promoted to Corporal. In 2010, I transferred from road Corporal to Corporal over Civil Process and Courthouse Security. I was promoted to Sergeant in 2016, and just recently promoted to Lieutenant over Civil process and Courthouse Security. I’ve served as team leader on the SWAT team for 15 years, while employed at the Macon County Sheriffs Office. I also worked the Multi-Agency Narcotics Unit a little less than a year, where I bought an array of drugs in western North Carolina. Although I left for around three years from 2004 until 2008, I bought back all of my time, making me the candidate with the most years of service at the MCSO; 22 years of service (23-years in May 2022). My career choice in law enforcement dates back three generations! My grandfather, Jack Holbrooks, worked for the Highlands Police Department and was sworn in under Police Chief Joe Baty in 1967. My father, Homer Holbrooks served as a Sheriff’s Deputy for 3-years before being elected as the Sheriff of Macon County where he served with distinction for 16 more years, retiring in 2002. Throughout my career with the Sheriffs Office. I have proudly served under Sheriff Robbie Holland in a variety of progressively more responsible leadership roles that I hope to have culminate in being elected Sheriff in 2022.

My pride is my family as I am a dedicated father of three young children that attend the Highlands School where my wife, Sarah, serves as the Vice Principal and is finishing her 12th year in the MCS system. My three older children are young adults and they have been raised and educated here in Macon County. In our spare time, we enjoy spending time outdoors and with our family. I enjoy taking my children to the woods to hunt and learn about gun safety. Both Sarah and I enjoy coaching our little ones in community league sports, we also volunteer with various youth and children’s programs at Cowee Church, where we are both members. I serve on several boards for the youth league sports, including the little league boys’ basketball and baseball.”

2) Tell me about your political experience.

Bryson: “This is my first time running for an elected position.”

Holbrooks: No answer

3) Why are you running for office?

Bryson: “With Sheriff Holland’s announcement that he will be retiring at the end of his current term, after much prayer and with the support of my family, I decided that I wanted to be part of progressing the sheriff’s office forward. I have been asked many times by many people why I don’t go somewhere else to make more money and the answer is simple… Macon County is my home. This is where I grew up; where my children and grandchildren are growing up. As a father, my goal has always been to protect them, love them, and defend them to the best of my ability. I know that I can’t always be by their side, so what better way to protect them than to work for an agency that allows you to face the evil in our communities head-on.
I want to further our agency just as Sheriff Holland has worked to do for many years. The honest truth is, no, we aren’t exactly where we need to be, but I want to continue to build on what so many in this department have worked hard to create. Just like criminal enterprise is constantly evolving, so is Law Enforcement and I want to ensure that we evolve quicker and smarter for the betterment of my friends and neighbors.”

Holbrooks: “Serving alongside others that are dedicated to our youth and their future will be a cornerstone of my run for Sheriff and a purposeful strategy of the Sheriff’s Office, if I am elected. I will press for community-related policies that prompt our Deputies to work with other stakeholders as role models so that, together, our investment in the younger generation yields solid and measurable results.

Yes. law enforcement today has changed! It is much different than it was when my grandfather and father both served or even when I began my career 22 years ago. Yet, the fundamentals of community-based policies and a passion to do what is right must remain constant. As your Sheriff, I will be a problem-solver, dedicated to workplace, community and family balance. I will be creative and innovative, using natural interpersonal skills learned from my family and generational roots. Finally, I will be a dedicated public servant, ensuring that your message of what matters most has standing within the Sheriff s Office.”

4) If you were not running for office, which of the other candidates would you vote for and why?

Neither Bryson or Holbrooks answered this question, which was their right to do.

5) Any closing words you want to say to voters.

Bryson: “The drug tragedy in Macon County continues to grow; drug dealers are advancing quicker than law enforcement resources can evolve and it seems like we are always one step behind. My number one priority to the citizens of Macon County if elected as your next Sheriff, is to protect you and your families with the same vigilance I protect my own. And I am confident that one of the most important ways of doing that is to continue fighting the war on drugs. For most of my entire law enforcement career, I have prioritized combating this horrible epidemic and I assure you I will continue to do so as long as I serve Macon County. My approach to attacking Macon County’s drug problem centers around pooling resources and looking at all angles. Incarceration isn’t going to solve the tragedy impacting our friends and neighbors struggling with drug addictions. That is why I plan to constantly seek out grants and funding opportunities to make mental health resources and substance abuse treatment more readily available and accessible in Western North Carolina. We need to offer our community members an alternative to turning to drugs and the power and knowledge to break free from addiction.”

Holbrooks: “Eight generations of Holbrooks’ have called Macon County home —it is this legacy, strong family values and impeccable work ethic that defines who I am. As I embrace this journey to become your Sheriff, I do so knowing that together we can make a difference. My home, your home is Macon County, North Carolina! So, the question isn’t whether you know me, the real question you may ask is “can I vote for Brent Holbrooks as Macon County’s next Sheriff?” My vision for the Office of Sheriff’s simple, BE A STRONG YET COMPASSIONATE LEADER who listens to every voice equally — a leader that is in-touch with the residents, a leader that understands what being a public law enforcement servant is all about, a leader that respects everyone. I am the right individual for this position. I always stand firm that I am not a politician, but I am a family man that loves God, my family, and our country.”

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