An awkward press conference just wrapped up at the state Capitol, called by Clayton County lawmakers in defense of Sheriff-elect Victor Hill. At least that’s who we think they were talking about.
Hill, you’ll recall, faces a couple dozen felony indictments for alleged misbehavior during his first stint as sheriff, which ended when voters booted him in 2008. Hill revived his law enforcement career by beating incumbent Kem Kimbrough in the Democratic primary this summer, and defeated a write-in candidate this month.
Once Hill takes his oath of office in January, Gov. Nathan Deal has the option of suspending Hill until his legal issues are resolved. The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association last week recommended the governor take that route, and even suggested a replacement.
It was that move from the sheriffs’ association that provoked the Clayton County delegation. “I want to see the process work,” said state Sen. Gail Davenport, D-Jonesboro, chairman of the delegation. “We want to make sure he has the right to prove his innocence.” Davenport noted that the fellow who won the November general election contest for sheriff in Clayton received 76 percent of the vote.
Davenport was followed by state Sen. Valencia Seay, D-Riverdale. “I was appalled and taken aback when I heard the sheriff’s association giving a recommendation for a replacement of our sheriff-elect,” she said. “The voters were crystal clear when they elected [the] sheriff-elect. They were crystal clear when they rejected the former sheriff.”
Seay said the sheriff’s association had acted “prematurely,” and in “total disrespect to the voters in Clayton County.”
Eight minutes and two speakers into the 10-minute press conference, and the name “Victor Hill” had yet to be uttered – unusual to say the least, and a signal that the issue has caused some discomfort within the ranks. The duty of actually naming Clayton County’s sheriff-elect was left to state Rep. Darryl Jordan, D-Riverdale.
I asked the group if they were asking governor not to suspend Hill once he takes office, as state law provides for. The lawmakers said no – not yet.
But Jordan said the issue was on the table, and handed me a copy of a letter to the governor that he’s asked his fellow Clayton County legislators to sign. Click here to read the entire letter, but here’s a portion:
“I could not continue to look at myself straight in the mirror if I did not register my complaint with you about the modern-day lynching of an elected official in Clayton County, Victor Hill. Victor Hill is my friend. He is a man who has admitted to the voters of Clayton County that he has made some mistakes in the past….
It seems to me, Governor, that when certain people can’t get their wishes at the voting booths, then they employ raw, unmitigated, egregious and flagrant attacks on the Voting Rights Act. This is unconscionable. The People of Clayton County are tired of this shabby and condescending treatment from people who don’t even live here and who certainly would not deign to even drive down to Clayton County to even eat at a nice restaurant on Tara Boulevard….
“It seems that these same people who can’t even utter the name “Clayton County” without sneering or choking are the same ones who want to tell us who to elect as our sheriff. We don’t need nor desire for you to bring back some sheriff who has long since been out of office…..
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider