Democratic Party nominates Donald Hill for sheriff

Published 8:37 pm Thursday, November 20, 2008

The nomination of Hill will be sent to Polk county commissioners for approval today. The county board has called a special meeting at 7 p.m. to consider the party&squo;s nominee.

Hill is a Tryon High graduate who received an associate&squo;s degree in criminal justice and fish and wildlife from Haywood Community College.

He began his law enforcement career under former Polk Sheriff Boyce Carswell in 1991 and eventually rose to the position of Captain. He has served under three sheriff administrations and most recently served as Jail Administrator before he was terminated. It was unclear why Hill was let go from the sheriff&squo;s office, which had a high turnover rate under Abril. Abril resigned last week, just prior to pleading guilty to two felony charges on Monday.

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Speaking to members of the Polk County Democratic Party Thursday night, Hill said he wants to restore the integrity of the sheriff&squo;s office.

&dquo;The operation of the sheriff&squo;s office must be one that creates trust, confidence, and honesty with the public and employees,&dquo; he said. &dquo;I pledge to each of you those are the qualities that will be the platform of a Donald Hill administration.

&dquo;I will expect nothing less than a professional, respectful and conscientious group of employees who understand they are public servants.&dquo;

Hill said he would uphold those values during the remainder of Abril&squo;s term over the next two years, and in future terms if he is elected. Hill said one of his first priorities would be filling a vacant position overseeing domestic violence cases, and he would work to improve relationships with municipal police departments in the county.

Smith said he would pursue similar objectives if he had been chosen to replace Abril. Smith has served 26 years as a member of the Polk County rescue squad and 22 years as a paramedic. He said it&squo;s important to restore order, consistency and accountability to the sheriff&squo;s office. He said he would also focus on controlling spending, and he would move the sheriff&squo;s office back upstairs in the sheriff&squo;s building to be more accessible to the public.

The Polk County Democratic Party was charged with nominating a replacement because Abril, who was elected in 2006,&bsp; is a Democrat. The executive committee is made up of the party officers, precinct chairs and vice-chairs, Men&squo;s Club and Women&squo;s Club presidents, and elected officials.

If the county board does not approve Hill, the chief deputy, Tony Roberson, will continue to serve as acting sheriff until the position is permanently filled.