Jackson County

Supervisors say they expect Byrd will resign


JACKSON COUNTY -- Some Jackson County supervisors said they were still unsure Tuesday of the process they would use to replace Mike Byrd, after they learned the sheriff had pleaded guilty to a felony charge in federal court.

But they said they hoped to find someone "who will do right by the county" and restore faith in the Sheriff's Office.

As of Tuesday night Byrd had not resigned, but all five county supervisors expected him to soon.

"It's definitely not a good day in Jackson County," said Supervisor John McKay.

Supervisor Barry Cumbest said, "Someone with his heart in the right place would have already done it," resigned.

Addressing Byrd's decision to delay resignation until after he pleaded guilty, Supervisor Troy Ross said, "I think when something like this happens you have to look and see what's best for the county, what's the least controversial. Just go ahead and do it in the most peaceful manner possible, quietly and calmly and get it over with."

Supervisor Melton Harris said he thinks self-preservation kicked in and made Byrd hang onto the job.

"I know this is a big fall for him," Harris said, "with the level he's been at in this county and the state. It's tough. It would be hard for anyone at that point to give up that easy."

The Board of Supervisors will pick an interim to serve until November, when a special election is added to the ballot for the U.S. Senate race. The person elected then will serve a year, until the regular election for sheriff comes up.

Candidates have already lined up for the job, but supervisors won't officially begin the process until Byrd resigns.

There is expected to be some wrangling. But it will take only three votes from the five-man board to select an interim sheriff.

McKay said, "still, I hope we would have a consensus in the end."

He said the board members are counting on the legal department to advise them.

He said he believes picking a new sheriff "will be a deliberate process that will last a week or two."

They plan to take resumes, set a criteria and chose from the top four or five candidates.

Cumbest said, "We have to pick someone who will do right by Jackson County. It's not going to be an easy process. We want to do it pretty fast and get someone back in there, but we want to do it right."

Harris said he hopes they will move expeditiously, but "there's nothing in the code that says we have to have this done in X number of days."

Ross pointed out that if Byrd fails to resign, the Attorney General will take action to remove him. State law will not allow a felon to serve in that office.

Board President Mike Mangum said Tuesday afternoon Byrd had not corresponded with the county.

"I think the only way to be out is one, he has to resign or, two, be removed," Mangum said. "Until either one of those happens, he will still be in office."

McKay said, "the safety and well-being of the people of this county depends on the sheriff."

He said Byrd "has served the county well for years. Whoever takes over is going to have his hands full.

"They'll be under a microscope for sure and have to carry out the duties at a higher caliber. They will have to restore faith in that department."