Repeal of merit ordinance may open up field for sheriff

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Decision to be made at Sept. 19 meeting

 SHEPHERDSVILLE -- A race which seemed destined to have a large field next year could be open to a few more candidates.

Bullitt Fiscal Court is being asked to repeal an ordinance which set up job protection for members of the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office.

But that ordinance also prevented current deputies from running for the position of sheriff — unless they were willing to resign from their job.

Those who have already filed financial paperwork to run for the sheriff’s position include Larry Coy, Bryan Whittaker and Mike Offe on the Republican ticket and Myra Minton on the Democratic side.

Donnie Tinnell, who was appointed to fill the sheriff’s seat earlier this year when David Greenwell retired, has said he has no intention of running for a second four-year term.

Several other deputies have mentioned the interest in running for the office. However, the merit ordinance approved in 2013 prevented them from taking that next step unless they resigned from their job.

“What’s the value of it?” Tinnell said of the ordinance. “I don’t think it has any value.”

His personal involvement in the merit system caused frustration as he wanted to make a promotion. However, under the merit board, that couldn’t be done because there were things, such as testing, which had not been set up.

“It kind of gets in my way to do the job,” Tinnell said of the merit board.

If the merit system was to be in place, he said the board had not taken the steps necessary to make it operate.

He understands the bottom line of having deputies protected from termination by the incoming sheriff. However, Tinnell said, there had been cases where fired deputies were able to go to court and get compensated for the termination.

Tinnell also recalled that Paul Parsley fired Greenwell when the deputy made it known that he was going to run against his boss. The current sheriff said the courts affirmed Parsley’s ability to terminate a person who could be a “fox in the hen house.”

He didn’t believe that any incoming sheriff would fire deputies, especially since it is so hard to find, train and retain law enforcement officials.

The request for fiscal court to pass the ordinance in 2013 was a political one, said Tinnell. 

The best candidates to run for the open seat would be those who have experience in  the office, said Tinnell. He knows there are several in his office who are interested.

Magistrate Joe Rayhill said he would be concerned as an employee that he couldn’t run for office without resigning.

At the same time, Rayhill did like the protection for the deputies who could be fired just because a new sheriff wanted to change staff.

Bullitt Fiscal Court will make the final decision at its Tuesday, Sept. 19, meeting at 9:30 a.m.

The filing deadline is next January.