New sheriff could be approved Friday night

Published 4:40 pm Thursday, November 20, 2008

Abril&squo;s resignation took effect Sunday at midnight, hours before he appeared in court on rape charges. Abril, who was elected as sheriff in 2006, pleaded guilty Monday to reduced charges and was sentenced to 120 days of house arrest, beginning December 1, and three years of supervised probation.

Tony Roberson, formerly the chief deputy under Abril, has been serving since Monday as the acting sheriff.

Since Abril is a Democrat, it is up to the Democratic Party to suggest a replacement. State statute says: &dquo;If the sheriff were elected as a nominee of a political party, the board of commissioners shall consult the county executive committee of that political party before filling the vacancy, and shall elect the person recommended by the county executive committee of that party, if the party makes a recommendation within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy.&dquo;

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If the board fails to fill the vacancy, the chief deputy shall continue to perform the duties of sheriff with full authority until the vacancy is filled.

According to Margaret Johnson, chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, nominations for Abril&squo;s replacement will be &dquo;taken from the floor at the meeting&dquo; on Thursday. According to state statute, the person should be someone who will &dquo;possess the same qualifications, enter into the same bond, and be subject to removal, as the sheriff regularly elected.&dquo;

Executive committee members who nominate someone are asked to bring the nominee to the meeting and prepare a brief presentation about the person&squo;s background and work experience. Following the presentations, there will be a period for asking the nominees questions.

Each nominee will be allowed two minutes for a concluding statement following the question-and-answer period.

Johnson says voting will then be done by private ballot and in compliance with the N.C. Democratic Party Plan of Organization rules on voting. Elected Democrats and party officers will receive one vote and precinct chairs and vice-chairs will have their votes weighted according to the party&squo;s plan of organization.

According to the plan of organization, &dquo;the county party executive committee membership 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 (whether elected in a partisan or non-partisan election).&dquo;

Those who are members in multiple capacities receive votes for only one position. Precincts are entitled to cast one vote for every 100 votes the Democratic nominee for governor received in the last election. The precinct chair and vice-chair are each entitled to half the total precinct vote.

The Polk County Democratic Party is expected to submit its nomination to the county board on Friday and the board has called a special meeting Friday night to consider approval.