Hatch Act hurts Bertie County

Published 9:11 am Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Hatch Act was meant to be a protection that wouldn’t allow people employed by the government to run the government.

And while we could debate whether or not it is necessary to begin with, we can certainly say it has been misapplied locally.

Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins wanted to serve out the remainder of the term he was duly elected for and then support his Chief Deputy, John Holley, as the latter made a bid to be elected to the same post.

That wouldn’t have been possible since the Hatch Act kept Holley from filing for the office because he supervised someone who received a federal grant, though Holley had no direct control of the budget or how it was spent.

Now, Sheriff Atkins is stepping down 11 months early and asking the Bertie County Board of Commissioners to appoint Holley as his successor. That would allow Holley, if he chooses, to seek election as Sheriff of Bertie County in November.

While the sheriff’s support of his friend is admirable and – if he wasn’t going to seek reelection anyway – right and proper, it shouldn’t have been necessary.

John Holley is an employee of Bertie County. It is the citizens of Bertie County who pay his salary and it is those same citizens who will decide if he is elected to the post of sheriff in the May primary and November general election.

It should be up to them and not to a federal bureaucrat whether or not John Holley is elected sheriff.

Hopefully, thanks to the sacrifice of the current sheriff, those citizens will get their say. It’s good to know someone is looking out for the citizens of Bertie County.