The race for sheriff of Chester County is expected to draw voters to the polls on June 10.
The county faces several issues, including a rise in street gangs, violence and drugs.
Candidate Richard Smith is chief of the Fort Lawn Police Department. He said not enough is being done to win the war on drugs on the streets of Chester.
"I'd like to form a task force like York County has, and let's get tough on drugs and gangs," Smith said.
Sheriff Robby Benson said in his eight years in office he's done just that, building a strong relationship with state and federal drug agents. He credits his drug team with getting more dealers and more weapons off the streets than ever.
"We're staying very active in dealing with the drug problem and the gang problem," he said. "We're doing more with less than they did 10 years ago."
Tuesday afternoon, Benson and several county drug agents flew over parts of the county in a National Guard helicopter. Several times a year they look for large marijuana plots secretly growing in dense woods. His deputies have found and destroyed millions of dollars worth of pot plants in the past three years.
"I think it shows that we're proactive in finding drugs," Benson said.
But Smith questions the sheriff's methods. He said it's one thing to find the plants, it's another to make arrests and stop it.
"Let's put some people in jail. There's no consequences, and that's why I think we're finding more marijuana every year," he said.
Smith said he'd restructure the sheriff's office to put more emphasis on stopping drugs.
Benson said he's doing all he can with a limited budget and fewer officers now than years ago.
"The price of gas has gone up, insurance has gone up and no one's getting pay raises, not just in the sheriff's office, but across the country, in any job," he said.
Benson has fought an ongoing battle with county officials over the deteriorating condition of the county detention center. With substandard plumbing and holes in the ceiling, it has failed state inspections for 17 years.
Benson said county leaders must approve funding to build an entirely new jail. Smith said that's premature.
"I wouldn't recommend a new jail until an architect looked at it first," he said.
Smith ran against Benson in 2004 and lost by about 10 percent of the vote.
Benson said he expects a tight race between the two, but he said his office has made progress and will continue to help make Chester County a safe place to live.
A third candidate, retired State Trooper Paul Martin, is also running for sheriff. Eyewitness News left messages with Martin and dropped by his Richburg home, but we were not able to reach him.