Clarksville, TN – Sheriff John Fuson knows he is following in the footsteps of a very successful and popular public figure in the late Norman Lewis. Norman Lewis commanded a very loyal and dedicated department of law enforcement professionals. His reputation is something John Fuson knows all too well.
“Sheriff Lewis was a great man,” said Fuson. “He did things the way he thought was best for this department. He was good to me, and fair, and I learned a lot from him. He had a way of doing things that was his style, and people may not have always agreed with it, but he knew what he was doing. He once asked me what my goals were and I told him, “to be sitting where you sit.””Cocky?
People who know John Fuson would never describe him as “cocky.”
Montgomery County Commissioner Mark Riggins said, “I’ve know John since we both joined the commission in 2010. People really like him. He’s smart, and has a lot of common sense. He and I think a lot alike, and his constituents absolutely love him.”
Steve Batten, his friend and neighbor said, “I don’t think John has ever been called “cocky.” He is confident. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing. John has prepared for this moment for years.”
Being the Sheriff of Montgomery County is a high profile position. For someone unaccustomed to the spotlight, are you prepared for such a high profile position and the power that comes with it?
“Absolutely. I’ve been preparing for this my whole career,” Fuson said. “I would do this job for the same money I get now. It’s not about the money, or the power. It’s about helping people. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the press, or the politics. I know what needs to be done, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this department the best it’s ever been.”
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s department hasn’t been without it’s fair share of criticism over the years. Claims of mistreating prisoners, conflict of interest claims, and several high profile “escapes” have made headlines.
We asked Sheriff Fuson if those things bothered him, and what he planned to do about it?
“I’m looking at all areas of this department and the jail is a big responsibility that we take very seriously. I haven’t decided what, if any, changes will occur there. We can always do better, but until I have a chance to see what’s going on there, I can’t say specifically what I will do different,” said Fuson. “I can’t speak to anything that’s happened in the past. I hope the community will continue to be proud of this department and the work that was done by Sheriff Lewis. My goal is to make it better.”
Politically, the Sheriff is an elected office. The relationship with the county mayor is different than in the city. Do you have a good relationship with Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, and will there be changes in your command staff?
“I get along fine with Mayor Bowers, and I hope she feels the same. The fact that her husband is part of my command staff has nothing to do with our relationship. The people who get the job done are the people I want leading this department. It’s that simple,” Fuson said.
When Fuson was selected by the County Commission, some citizens responded that the commission was just “taking care of their own” and may not have selected the best man for the job, something not everyone agrees with.
District 16 Commissioner Robert Nichols said, “I resist that comment. I’ve known John Fuson for four years, and as a retired Sgt Major, I know a good man when I see one.”
“It didn’t mean anything to me,” said commissioner Mark Riggins. “He was the best man for the job, although I did have other commissioners tell me, that they didn’t vote for him because of that opinion. I thought that was ridiculous. I have no doubt that he’s the man for the job.”
“There’s always going to be naysayers,” said his friend Steve Batten.
It didn’t phase the new Sheriff.
“Like I said, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the media, and all of the political talk in Clarksville. I’m focused on the job at hand, and preparing for the challenges that lie ahead. I had already planned to run in 2014, so even if I wasn’t chosen by the county commission, I was going to run for Sheriff anyway,”according to Fuson.
Speaking of the media. Will your department be more transparent? Can we expect to hear more about the work going on there?
Fuson replied, “I will have a more open policy about the media. I want the community to know what great things are going on here. Sheriff Lewis had his method of dealing with the media, and it didn’t always make people happy, but that was his way of doing things. There are some things we can’t discuss, but for the most part, I will insist that my department be more open. Our website is one of the most popular web sites in Clarksville.”
Sheriff John Fuson will finish the remaining term of the late Norman Lewis. He will run for re-election in 2014.
It’s expected to be a crowded race.
For more information about the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, visit www.mcgtn.org/sheriff.