Ira Edwards (D), Former Sheriff of Athens-Clarke County
2000 – 2020
Ira Edwards was the first African-American Sheriff in Athens’ history.
Edwards received 49% of the vote, losing the 2020 Democratic primary to John Q Williams.
Edwards’ vision, as listed on his website, includes recruitment, training and reducing recidivism but is not specific about how these goals will be accomplished.
Edwards has raised $46,829 for his 2020 re-election campaign, including from bail bondsmen and direct from multiple corporations involved in the private prison industry. He ended up not spending $24,488.
Edwards first started working for the Sheriff’s Office in 1985. He also worked for the Police Department as a patrol officer, probation officer and Chaplain. The Clarke County Sheriff’s Office received Georgia Law Enforcement Certification in 2007, becoming the 10th Sheriff’s Office in Georgia to receive this award.
Criticism and Controversy
Criticism for Cooperation with ICE — Edwards was criticized by progressive organizations for cooperation with ICE and assisting in the deportation of undocumented Athenians in 2018.
Audit of Sheriff’s Office (2014-2018) — The ACC Office of Operational Analysis released a stinging audit report of the Sheriff’s Office in 2019. It describes poor morale, ineffective leadership and an inability to recruit and retain qualified employees. Sheriff Edwards has begun to address some of these concerns. For example, the Sheriff’s Office has released a high-quality recruitment video and is screening it at local movie theaters.