Some in Lowndes County Not Happy with New Sheriff - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Some in Lowndes County Not Happy with New Sheriff

Sheriff Williams Sheriff Williams

He's a newly-appointed white sheriff in a majority black county. And some citizens say they have reservations about that.

The governor recently appointed former Lowndes County Deputy Chip Williams to the job of sheriff, replacing Sheriff Willie Vaughner, who died of a heart attack last month.

"This is a kick in the face," said Lowndes County Probate Judge John Hulett.

At a news conference Wednesday, Hulett almost immediately played the race card.

"If this was Shelby County, where there is a vast majority white population, would the governor have gone out on a limb and appointed a black official?" he asked.

Hulett joined county commissioners and ordinary citizens expressing their disappointment in the governor's choice. They say Deputy John Williams, who has served the department for nearly 30 years, would have been a better choice. He is also black.

"We feel strongly that Big John, as I call him, who is well qualified, should have been appointed," said Rev. Howard Jones of New Hope Christian Church.

"My question to my governor is, 'how could you have overlooked Big John?'" asked Orbuty Ozier.

WSFA 12 News contacted the governor to get his answer.

"What I did was look at the qualifications of each one," he said.

Governor Riley pointed to Chip Williams' criminal justice degree, his work with state law enforcement, in addition to his experience as a former Lowndes County Deputy.

"I looked at which one, from their background and their resume, was the best qualified and that's the reason I made the decision that I did," Riley said.

And as for the new sheriff himself? He says he intends to do the best job that he can.

"I hope that when it comes time to work with the county commissioners, they can put things aside and work with me to better the county," he said. "I hope they can put race aside."

Sheriff Williams will serve out the rest of former Sheriff Vaughner's term, which expires in 2010. At that time, an election will be held.

Reporter: Mark Bullock

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