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Singleton planning GOP run for sheriff
By Tom Smith -

FLORENCE — Rick Singleton said he set a goal when he began his law enforcement career as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in 1972. He said he has never lost sight of that aspiration.

“The first night I set foot in a patrol car with the deputy, he asked me why I wanted to do it,” Singleton said. “I told him that one day I wanted to be sheriff. “My career took a different path, but I never lost sight of that goal.”

After a career with the Florence Police Department, including a lengthy stint as chief, Singleton has announced he will run for the Lauderdale County sheriff’s position in 2014. He will seek the Republican Party nomination.

Sheriff Ronnie Willis, a Democrat, is in his third term. Willis, who was elected in 2002, said he is considering retirement.

“I have not made up my mind at this point,” he said.

No one else has announced intentions to seek the office.

Singleton, 60, retired as Florence’s police chief to run for mayor last year, a race he lost to Mickey Haddock. He said he’s ready to get back to work.

“When I retired, I said I wasn’t ready to quit but I was ready for a new challenge,” Singleton said. “The (mayor’s election) didn’t work out, and I’m OK with that. I’m just not ready to quit, though. I still want to serve the public.”

He said several people have asked him to consider running for sheriff.

“I did, and I’m ready to get to work,” Singleton said. “Actually, qualifying is just over a year from March, so the campaign will start in about a year. It may be early (to announce) but not too early to get started.”

Singleton worked five years with the sheriff’s office before joining the Police Department.

“I’ve often made the comment that I still miss that work,” Singleton said. “Working in the county is different than working in the city. I have some ideas I believe can improve and provide better service to county residents.

“There are some opportunities there and some challenges. I strive on a challenge and I get excited thinking about it.”

Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or

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