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Rupert Howell Column

Rupert Howell

New sheriff chosen; time for county to move on

Let’s move on.

A majority of supervisors in this county recently voted to appoint Chief Deputy Otis Griffin to be interim sheriff. For the next 14 months he’s our sheriff.

There’s a hero in all of this and that is Sheriff Shot Bright’s widow, Mary Nell, who didn’t let greed or ego interfere with her decision to turn down the position when it was offered to her. The long standing tradition of appointing an elected official’s spouse to fill a term is outdated and no longer fullfills the purpose of which it was originally intended.

Pensions, life insurance and other retirement benefits along with the fact that women in the work place are as common as men did away with need to support the widowed spouse until the next election.

Ms. Bright’s decision has now given officials a benchmark to begin a new era in replacing deceased or office holders no longer able to serve.

The board’s decision to place Griffin is only fitting as he is the man who will most likely carry out the plan or vision of the late elected sheriff.

Although supervisors originally wanted an interim who had no interest in running for the office, that request may not have been logical.

Holding the office in interim requires maintaining a large department of professionals while keeping the peace throughout a spacious county. Besides, when supervisors made that request several years ago while appointing an interim constable, it didn’t work.

Griffin has said that he will run the department for the next 14 months with the vision that he and the late sheriff shared. If he decides to run for sheriff he will rightfully have a record for opponents to use against him if the department is not run well, or a record on which he can stand tall if the department runs smoothly.

Griffin is not hesitant to express his faith and says up front that the job is bigger than “just me.” He then mentions the large staff that is employed to maintain the functions of deputy patrols, accident investigation, domestic violence, criminal investigation, housing inmates both state and county, operating the 911 emergency system and maintaing courts.

Citizens will again have an opportunity to elect a sheriff in November of 2010. And if we don’t like it, we can elect another one the next year.