Process underway to replace Hewett

Brunswick County is less than a month away from having a new sheriff. State law says that the party of the former sheriff will decide the next sheriff. Because Ron Hewett is a Democrat, the Brunswick County Democratic Party will be choosing the new sheriff. But not without asking for the public’s input.

Days after Ron Hewett resigned amid corruption allegations, the process for choosing his replacement is already underway. “What’s most important now is filling the leadership void right now that was created by Sheriff Hewett resigning,” says Robert Epstein, Vice Chair of the Brunswick County Democratic Party.

“The county deserves a more regular presence and we are committed to being good stewards of the process.” Epstein is part of the committee that will vote on Hewett’s replacement.

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Right now, committee members are compiling a list of candidates. They will then hold a public meeting to hear from the candidates and county residents. After a series of votes, committee members will then submit their choice to county commissioners. “We are very committed to having a very open, transparent and a well-run process,” says Epstein. The process is essentially open to anyone.

To be a county sheriff in North Carolina, you must be 21 years old, literate, have lived in the county for one year, and lived in the voting precinct for 30 days. No prior law enforcement experience or party affiliation is required. Ron Hewett resigned earlier this week, after serving as sheriff since 1994.

In March, he was suspended after 22 current and former members of the department came forward with allegations of misconduct and extortion. A federal grand jury has since indicted Hewett, but has yet to put forth its findings. For now, Coroner Greg White remains the county’s acting sheriff.