JEFFERSON-County commissioners came at an impasse Tuesday morning about how the selection of the next county sheriff should be handled.
The board voted 3-2 in postponing a formal decision until the next meeting on Jan. 16.
Tuesday’s vote comes after the November retirement of long-time Sheriff James Williams, whose term was not set to expire until 2018.
In announcing his retirement, Williams submitted a succession plan that included the installation of his right-hand man Bucky Absher, who has 36 years of experience in law enforcement.
Commissioner Larry Rhodes made the motion to appoint Absher. He said Absher’s promotion is necessary in order to maintain consistency, camaraderie and the ability to promote within the sheriff’s department.
Rhodes and Commissioner William Sands also referenced the fact that more than 70 percent of the county’s voting population approved the installation of the current sheriff’s office administration thus reflecting their confidence in Williams’ succession plan.
“We have people who are really anxious to get this settled,” said Sands. “Our sheriff’s office is anxious to get this over. In my opinion, there’s no one more qualified to serve this county sheriff than Bucky Absher.”
Commissioner Gary Roark said more time was needed to vet the other candidates that have recently came forward expressing interest for the job. He said that although Absher has 36 years of experience in law enforcement, all other candidates should be allowed to plea their case to commissioners.
Filling for the sheriff’s race begins in February 2018.
N.C.G.S 162-5 addresses this situation directly.
“If any vacancy occurs in the office of sheriff, the coroner of the county shall execute all process directed to the sheriff until the first meeting of the county commissioners next succeeding such vacancy, when the board shall elect a sheriff to supply the vacancy for the residue of the term, who shall possess the same qualifications, enter to the same bond, and be subject to removal, as the sheriff regularly elected. If the board should fail to fill such vacancy, the coroner shall continue to discharge the duties of the sheriff until it shall be filled. In those counties where the office of the coroner has been abolished, the chief deputy shall perform all the duties of the sheriff until the county commissioners appoint some person to fill the unexpired term.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.