It is hard to express just how stupid a decision this is.
Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has reclaimed the office he lost four years ago despite 37 pending felony charges that accuse him of using his government office and his 2008 campaign to enrich himself.
With only one precinct uncounted, Hill was ahead. But the charges he’s facing make it uncertain whether he will take office in January because the governor could suspend him until he goes to trial.
But incumbent Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, the man defeated by Hill, gives it a good college try:
“Don’t be sorry for me. Be sorry for Clayton County. I’ll be fine but there are a whole lot of people’s lives that will be affected by this and maybe they have to see this for themselves. It’s something I’ve heard a million times; only in Clayton County. It is what it is.”
On one hand, I think Gov. Nathan Deal ought to use his power to bar Hill from taking office until the 37 counts against him are resolved. The man has proved himself incapable of handling power in a responsible fashion, and in this case, the power involved comes with a gun and a badge. That’s a bad combination.
On the other hand, maybe the governor ought to stand aside and let Clayton County voters deal with the consequences of this terrible decision. Hill’s history in office and the charges against him were hardly a secret to Clayton voters. Why should the governor march in and save them from themselves, particularly when by doing so he would burnish Hill’s status as a martyr in the eyes of his supporters?
The outcome will also have consequences beyond the sheriff’s office. Clayton County’s reputation was already troubled. A decision this flamboyantly bad cements its image as ungovernable and inoperable. The ramifications of this will play out for years, and not in a good way.
A true headshaker.
– Jay Bookman