Three Men Throw Their Hat In For Role Of Bertie County Sheriff

Monday was the first day candidates could file to run in the spring primary, and one Sheriff's race, where the Sheriff just stepped down, saw several people file to get their names on the ballot.

Three men are running to become Bertie County Sheriff, including one who was just appointed to the position Friday.

According to the Bertie County Board of Elections, John Holley, the Sheriff appointed after Greg Atkins resigned, Eddie Graham Junior and Brian Knowles are running to win the election for next term.

Atkins, who Holley appointed Chief Deputy says the original plan was to finish his term, which ends in December.

But because the department receives federal funds, Holley couldn't run for Sheriff and still keep his Chief Deputy job, unless he was appointed Sheriff first.

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It's a case of job switching for one law enforcement agency in Eastern Carolina.

Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins resigned from his job Friday, and county commissioners appointed Chief Deputy John Holley as the new sheriff.

Holley, who became the county's first African-American sheriff, then named Atkins his chief deputy.

Atkins says the two never discussed that a condition of the sheriff's resignation was that Atkins then receive the chief's job.

Atkins told WITN News the original plan was to finish his term, which ends in December, and not run for re-election so Holley could take the top post instead. But because the department receives federal funds, Holley couldn't run for sheriff and still keep his chief deputy job, unless he was appointed sheriff first.


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Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins says he will step down at 2 Friday afternoon.

Atkins told WITN News the original plan was to finish his term, which ends in December, and not run for re-election so Bertie County Chief Deputy John Holley could take the top post instead. Atkins says he has worked with Holley for a long time and knows the deputy wants to finish his career as Sheriff. Atkins told us he doesn’t mind stepping down.

However, the Hatch Act is putting a twist in Atkin’s plan. The act was introduced back in the 1930’s to regulate political activities of federal employees. According to the measure an employee of the Sheriff’s Department can not seek office if the department has received a federal grant, and the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office has received government funding from the stimulus plan. Atkins tell us the act keeps anyone in the department from seeking a supervisory role except the Sheriff. So, Holley could not run for the Sheriff position unless he resigned now and was elected later, putting him out of a job until December.

To avoid that from happening Atkins says he’s going to step down Friday, Deputy Chief Holley will move to acting Sheriff and then he hopes the Bertie County Board of Commissioners will appoint him to be the permanent Sheriff at a meeting at 2pm on Friday. That way Holley will be able to run for Sheriff without resigning.


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