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Sheriff to retire, touts possible successor
Thursday, 04 May 2017 13:01

From Staff Reports

After three terms as sheriff of Buncombe County, Van Duncan announced during an April 7 news conference that he will retire when his current term ends in January 2019.

In addition, Duncan endorsed Lt. Randy Smart as his successor. However, he added that regardless of who succeeds him, Duncan worries for the safety of a new sheriff.

Duncan praised Smart as an “experienced law enforcement officer with high professional standards and integrity.”

Duncan, a lifelong Democrat, won his first run for the sheriff’s job in 2006 with support from 59 percent of the vote to defeat then-sheriff Bobby Medford. Medford later was convicted of federal corruption charges related to illegal video gamblng.

Duncan, 53, who has won respect among his peers for bringing professionalism to the office, is known for a manner of speech that features a casual mountain accent. He also is known for his candor.

His success in his job may account for his decision to stay three terms, after originally only planning to serve two terms. Indeed, in the 2014 election, he won more than 70 percent of the vote.

In announcing his impending retirement, Duncan said he thinks the timing is right for someone else to offer their ideas and energy to the job. Also, he noted that, while his health also has been in the back of his mind, that is not the deciding factor. He has multiple sclerosis.

Born in Spruce Pine, his family moved to North Wilkesboro when he was 6. The family returned to Mitchell County when he was in high school, after his father bought a community store there.

Duncan decided he wanted to enter law enforcement and graduated from Western Carolina University with a degree in criminal justice.

He began working at the Buncombe sheriff’s office under Medford in 2000, later becoming a detective. However, Duncan was fired in 2004, when Medford learned that Duncan might run for sheriff.

Duncan also worked at the Weaverville and Asheville police departments, as well as the Biltmore Estate, where he served as chief of company police for six years.



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