Rudy Johnson, 61, is seeking the office of Sheriff of Oktibbeha County. Johnson is currently the Executive Director of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District.
He is the father of Mandee, married to David Lewis and living in Starkville with their two sons, and Aimee, married to Dr. Steve Mann and residing in Atlanta, GA. He is also a member of Calvary Baptist Church.
He is currently serving as president of the Mississippi Association of Planning and Development Districts, president of the Development District Association of Appalachian and president of the Oktibbeha County Cattleman’s Association. He also currently serves on the Board of Trustees of East Mississippi Community College and the Mississippi State University Agricultural Advisory Committee. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Directors of the Oktibbeha Development Council. He was also president of the Mississippi Job Training Partnership Act, Chairman of the Board for Heart and Hand and served on the Board of Trustees of the Oktibbeha County Library.
When announcing his candidacy, Johnson said: “I lost my dad when I was 12 years old and a Mississippi Highway Patrolman became my mentor. It was during that time I developed a passion for law enforcement. However, I lost my arm during my first year of college by a 90-ton push press, making it impossible for me to pursue law enforcement as a career. God opened many other doors for me but I never lost my desire to serve and protect. To become the next Sheriff of Oktibbeha County would give me the opportunity to work for the people of this county while fulfilling a lifelong dream.
“I have lived in Mississippi my entire life. I was born in Kosciusko and lived there until I moved to Starkville in 1970 to attend Mississippi State University. I became a resident of Starkville upon graduation from MSU in 1972 and have lived and raised two daughters in Starkville since that time. I served the public for the past 21 years as the Executive Director of the GTPDD which serves 7 different area counties. In my present position as Executive Director for this area, I have worked directly with 35 county supervisors, 20 mayors and over 100 Board of Aldermen as well as with numerous other state, county and local officials. I was an Oktibbeha County Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff for 16 years and a Charter Member of the Criminal Justice Training Alliance of Mississippi. I also served on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Against Child Abuse and am currently the administrator of this area’s Meals on Wheels.
“The Sheriff’s Deputies perform most of the actual law enforcement duties; therefore, it is important that our deputies receive the most advanced training and state-of-the art equipment. My resourcefulness in obtaining grants/funds and maintaining a budget will make that possible.
“My current experience in administering, coordinating and supervising a yearly budget of $17 million, an annual payroll of $5.5 million and a staff of 256 are strengths I can draw from to run the day-to-day operations of the sheriff’s office. I know I am capable of leading the sheriff’s office to the next level that will make it stronger and more successful than ever before.
“Some of my top priorities will be to make sure our children are protected from illegal drugs and that a strong DARE program is in place in each of our county schools. Other top priorities will be to make sure our senior citizens are protected from scam artists, gangs are eliminated, and DUI work force officers are placed in the county.
“The Sheriff’s Department under my leadership and administrative experiences will further it’s relationship with our other area law enforcement agencies (Starkville Police Department, MSU Campus Police Department, Maben Police Department, Sturgis Police Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Department of Corrections and Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) to insure our citizens that we are prepared for the challenges of anticipated growth and added crime.
“I will maintain an ‘open door’ policy between the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens serves because I strongly believe good communication is necessary in running any successful organization. And, as the only candidate not receiving any retirement benefits, I plan to continue working my 12-hour work day and look forward to talking to the people of Oktibbeha County about my vision for this office.”