John Baker, who held office from 1978 until his loss in 2002 to current Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, will officially kick off his campaign for sheriff Thursday night at a meet-and-greet.
A 1958 graduate from North Carolina Central University, Baker was criticized in the past for spending too much time in the office and not enough time out on the field -- unlike Harrison, who is often visible on the street.
"I intend to spend more time, this time around, in the field," Baker said.
Baker, who said his No. 1 priority is curbing gang activity in the county, said he has two issues with Harrison's term as sheriff, criticizing him for having two attorneys on his staff and for allowing courtroom deputies to take their patrol cars home.
Harrison said he needs two attorneys in a growing department and that courtroom deputies use their cars to respond to emergencies and serve warrants when court is not in session.
A big issue in the campaign will be money.
Some people say it will take about $500,000 to run for the sheriff's seat. Donnie Harrison has about $162,000 in his campaign account; Baker has about $4,500.
Harrison said that while he has been raising money he's also watching what's spent.
He's filled every open position and put more patrol cars on the street. At the same time, he's cut overtime by $1.5 million.
"This is a big business," Harrison said. "A $49 million budget is big business. For the taxpayers, I try to look after their money."
And it's a race taxpayers in Wake County will be watching.