Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of profiles TAPinto Franklin/Somerset will be publishing on candidates vying for local office in the upcoming June 4 Primary Elections.

The candidates each were sent, and responded to, identical questions and their answers are being published verbatim.

Arthur R. Akins, 51, is running for Democrat's nominee for Somerset County Sheriff.

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Work/professional experience:

I am the best choice for sheriff because of my 26-year law-enforcement experience on the Bridgewater Police Department, my Master Degree in Leadership and Public Administration and my service as a United States Marine.  Throughout the years, I have encountered many situations, which have prepared me to assume the role of sheriff.  One such situation occurred while I was on assignment at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School as a School Resource Officer.  Reacting upon information that was given to me via a student, I was able to immediately deter a Columbine-like situation from occurring.  For this action, I was honored to receive the Dwayne Reeves School Resource Officer of the Year award in 2009.  I have recently received the Somerset County Democratic Black Caucus Humanitarian Award and the endorsement of the National Coalition of Latino Officers.

As a Sergeant, I was assigned to the night shift where I was responsible to manage and lead a team of officers.  There were numerous times when I was the only supervising officer in charge of the department. Bridgewater is the second largest township in Somerset County and, because of that, has unique situations that needed to be addressed daily. My success in handling those that arose during my command is a direct reflection of my experiences, education, and service as a United States Marine.

Why are you running for Sheriff?

I am running for Somerset County Sheriff because I feel it is time for positive improvements to take place within the county.  My beliefs and values will help lead the county toward this growth.   As a transparent community leader, I believe it is imperative to keep the lines of communication open between all facets of law enforcement and the residents of Somerset County.  I also feel it is important to promote camaraderie between the divisions of the sheriff’s office.  I am running for Somerset County Sheriff because protecting and serving the public has always been a career to me and never just a job.  I am not finished serving and am ready to move on to the county level.

What area would you focus on immediately if (when) you are voted in?

Some issues I will address within the county are as follows:

  • Educate the citizens as to the responsibilities of a sheriff’s office, the deputies, corrections officers and what they can come to count on and expect from the office
  • Provide active-shooter education to businesses within our county
  • Expand and publicize “Project Life Saver” (electronic tracking for those at high risk)
  • Institute a county gun turn-in program
  • Work in conjunction with local police departments to increase school safety
  • Enhance educational programs for county inmates to help prevent their reentry into the system
  • Assist in addressing hate crimes throughout the county