Local Politics

Ballot measure would bar convicted felons from becoming sheriff

Posted October 18, 2010

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— North Carolina voters will decide in the upcoming election whether to change the state constitution to prohibit convicting felons from serving as a county sheriff.

During the May primary, Gerald Hege was on the ballot to become sheriff in Davidson County, a job he held before he pleaded guilty in 2004 to two felony counts of obstruction of justice.

After Hege's defeat in the primary – five other convicted felons who ran for sheriff statewide also lost in the primary – lawmakers passed a bill to put the prohibition on the November ballot.

Election 1 Ballot measure would bar convicted felons from becoming sheriff

Since sheriff is a constitutionally created position, any changes to the job requirements must be made through an amendment to the state constitution.

Melisia Prout, president and chief executive of nonprofit Salvation's Way, which provides legal counsel to low-income people, fought Hege's candidacy. She supports the proposed amendment.

"The constitutional qualifications are not our main focus. It's the statutory qualifications you cannot get around," Prout said. "The fact that a convicted felon cannot be in care or control of a firearm, that statute does not say 'unless elected sheriff.'"

Although state and federal laws bar felons from possessing firearms, the constitution doesn't require a sheriff to carry a weapon.

5 Comments

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  • snickers27588 Oct 19, 12:28 p.m.

    There are quite a few Foxes guarding the Henhouses in this state.

  • Bill Brasky Oct 19, 9:07 a.m.

    "Someone please tell me why I should feel safe if that job is handed over to a criminal?
    Having a convict for sheriff is like having a fox guard the hen house."

    Not only that but for the example of Sheriff Hege, he was convicted of the felony while serving as Sheriff. Now he wants to be sheriff again? Not a chance.

  • rpwilms Oct 19, 8:25 a.m.

    The problem with this proposed Constitutional amendment is that it would bar from serving as sheriff anyone convicted of a felony in this or any other state. In California, for example, it's a felony to hang a horse lead from the handlebars of your motorcycle, but in NC doing so is not a crime. Why should someone be disqualified from serving as sheriff simply because he/she has violated some inane law in another state? I have no doubt this proposal will pass, but it is poorly written and overly broad.

  • johnstonredneck Oct 19, 8:19 a.m.

    The job of the sheriff is to protect and serve the people of the county he is in.

    Someone please tell me why I should feel safe if that job is handed over to a criminal?

    Having a convict for sheriff is like having a fox guard the hen house.

  • flyguync Oct 18, 6:48 p.m.

    Makes sense to me. If I have to get a handgun permit from my local Sheriff, why would I want to get approval from a convicted felon that can't legally own a firearm?