The county commissioners court today delayed naming a new sheriff, saying they want more time to digest a candidate field that continues to grow amid an emotionally charged environment.
“I for one am not prepared to make a decision and I’d like us to take a little more time to hear a little more before we make an appointment,” County Judge Elizabeth Sumter said in a sentiment that was later echoed by all but one of her colleagues.
Sumter and commissioners said they have been inundated with e-mail and phone calls from prospective sheriffs and their supporters starting within hours of Sheriff Allen Bridges’ sudden death early Dec. 6. Officials say 15 to 20 names have been floated in the intervening days with varying degrees of seriousness.
Said Pct. 4 Commissioner Karen Ford, “There is alot of emotion coming in behind these e-mail and phone calls and it is real and we need to listen to it. We need some time and space for some cool and thoughtful reflection.”
Bridges’ family has rallied around Chief Deputy Sherman Brodbeck for the position with other potential appointees including sheriff’s office Capt. Bo Kidd and former deputy Bill Huddleston, who won about 45 percent against Bridges in the November general election.
The appointed sheriff will serve the first two years of what would have been Bridge’s four-year term until a 2010 special election.
Only Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley pushed for an immediate decision, casting Brodbeck as a caretaker candidate who has pledged not to run for the job himself. Conley also argued against considering potential candidates in executive session which Sumter and some other court members seem to favor.