RALEIGH — Both of Surry County’s state legislators received recognition from a statewide organization recently.
Sen. Shirley Randleman and Rep. Sarah Stevens each received a public safety award from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association on Jan. 11.
“In recognition and appreciation of your outstanding public service through legislative initiatives that increase public safety and protect the rights of the citizens of North Carolina,” reads the award.
Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson, who is the association’s first vice president, said this was the first year the organization handed out the awards. About 25 awards were issued.
“Our executive committee voted to recognize people who consistently listened to our concerns,” explained Atkinson. “Sometimes it was even against their own political interests.”
Atkinson said every year the sheriffs’ association picks out legislative issues which affect all 100 county sheriffs in the state. He said legislators like Stevens and Randleman have aided in the efforts to push those agendas through the General Assembly.
Atkinson said his role with the association had nothing to do with Stevens and Randleman receiving the awards.
“They really earned those,” said Atkinson. “I’m extraordinarily proud that our two (legislators) were among those who received the award.”
Randleman and Stevens both said they were surprised by the award.
Randleman, a retired clerk of court, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations for Justice and Public Safety Committee.
Randleman said her background and work as chair of the two Senate committees is likely what led to the award.
“A lot of issues that directly affect local law enforcement passes through those committees,” explained Randleman. “Having a court background has been beneficial.”
Stevens chairs the North Carolina Courts Commission.
“As an attorney, I enjoy watching the balance between law enforcement and our court system,” said Stevens. “It’s great to work with our law enforcement agencies.”
Stevens said some accomplishments which affected sheriffs throughout the state during her tenure in the General Assembly have been “clearing up gray area in ejectment actions” and some reworking of juvenile law which allows for a sheriff’s deputy to respond with a social worker in certain situations.
Randleman said some new landlord and tenant legislation for which the sheriffs’ association has lobbied will soon be on the way and added an initiative to get military veterans into law enforcement careers as another legislative accomplishment.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with them (the sheriffs’ association),” concluded Randleman. “They are the voice of local law enforcement who are out there protecting our citizens every day.”
Stevens said it’s all part of the job of a public official.
“It (receiving the award) was a delightful surprise,” said Stevens. “I just view it as doing my job.”
Andy is a staff writer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-4698.