published Sunday, May 9th, 2010

3 counties to get new sheriffs

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — There will be new names on several sheriff’s office doors come September.

Sheriffs Steve Frisbie in McMinn County and Walter Hickman in Meigs County were defeated in the Republican primaries. Incumbent Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble is running for the 3rd Congressional District.

In McMinn County, it’s a family feud.

Joe Guy, a veteran law enforcement officer and the county mayor’s assistant, knocked off Mr. Frisbie, who has been sheriff for 16 years, in the GOP primary.

Now he’ll face his uncle, David Guy, former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent for Southeast Tennessee, in the Aug. 5 county election. David Guy was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

“We set some ground rules about a year ago if it ended up this way,” Joe Guy said. “We won’t forget we are family. We will run positive but competitive campaigns. I think voters appreciate that. Voters do not enjoy mudslinging.”

He said a national anti-incumbent mood may have played a role in local elections.

“We heard some of that in the campaign,” he said. “A lot of citizens, as I do, have a lot of respect for Steve (Frisbie). But they thought he had been there long enough.”

Joe Guy said he requested information from the federal Office of Special Counsel about his role in county government and the Hatch Act. The act regulates how federal employees and those who deal with federal funds can campaign. He said he has received no reply from the OSC. But since he is a county employee and does not administer programs using federal funds, he believes the Hatch Act does not apply to his candidacy.

David Guy agreed that “change was in the air.”

He has 38 years in law enforcement, from local to state agencies, including the TBI and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Division’s statewide task force. He said he always intended to cap his career by running for sheriff.

“It’s not a money thing. I’ve been very fortunate to have all the training I have and I just want to give back to my community,” he said. “All of my family has been aware of my plans for 30 years. I asked Joe to hold off, but he decided it was something he had to do.”

The campaign will be no different because of the family ties, David Guy said. It will be about qualifications, experience and education in law enforcement, he said.

KEY ELECTION DATES

* July 6: Last day to register to vote in county election/state primary

* July 16-31: Early voting

* Aug. 5 Election day

* Oct. 4: Last day to register to vote for state/national election

* Oct. 13-28: Early Voting

* Nov. 2: Election day

Source: Tennessee Division of Elections

“Joe is my nephew and I love him — you can quote that — but I think my qualifications are far greater than his,” David Guy said.

In Meigs County, the contest is over.

Walter Hickman lost his bid to be nominated by Republican voters for another term as sheriff, a post he has held for 28 years. The winner, Jackie Melton, left his job as Decatur police chief to seek the sheriff’s job.

There is no Democratic candidate, so Mr. Melton will become sheriff in September.

In Bradley County, it’s the clash of the captains.

Two veteran law enforcement officers, both captains in the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department, will compete for the top job in the county.

Capt. Jim Ruth, who won Tuesday’s Republican primary, heads the courts security division. Capt. Steve Lawson, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, heads the Criminal Investigations Division.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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