In movies about the Old West, people say all the time, “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”

However, when it comes to the Guilford County sheriff’s race, some Republican candidates, if they win, would be happy to share the limelight of being sheriff with a past occupant of that office.

Former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes, a Republican, served in that job for nearly a quarter of a century before losing the 2018 election to current Sheriff Danny Rogers, a Democrat.  Barnes didn’t throw his hat in the ring for the 2022 sheriff’s race. However, depending on how the election turns out, county residents might see a return to the department by the longtime Republican sheriff who, in the last four years, has published suspense novels and served as the mayor of Summerfield.

Ed Melvin, a Republican candidate for sheriff in the current election, said this week that he’d spoken with Barnes and said he told Barnes that, if elected, he would like the former sheriff to help put the department back on solid footing again.

“I told him I would like him to play a role in fixing things,” Melvin said.

Melvin added that Barnes said he’d be willing to do so.

When Rogers came into office, he fired about two dozen of Barnes’ deputies and changed many aspects of how the department was run.

Melvin, who was Roger’s chief deputy, objected to Roger’s mass firings – which Melvin called “completely unjustified.” He also objected to many other moves Rogers made.

Melvin and Rogers constantly butted heads until, after the firing of one very high-performing female officer in the jail – a firing that Melvin said was particularly appalling, cruel and unfair.

Barnes acknowledged that Melvin had asked for him to play a role in fixing the department and Barnes added that three other sheriff’s candidates on the Republican ticket had done the same: They had indicated that they would like Barnes to come back on board in some capacity to help get the Sheriff’s Department back on track.

Barnes said candidates Phil Byrd, Randy Powers and Billy Queen had asked for his help as well if elected.

Barnes said he thought very highly of those four and said he would be willing to help any of them should they win.

When asked about an endorsement, Barnes said that he would make an endorsement in the sheriff’s race only after the May 17 primary was decided.

Barnes said crime is up in the county and officer morale is down in the department after three-and-a-half years of Rogers’ rule, and the former sheriff added that he felt his long experience could help get the department running smoothly.