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Buncombe elects 1st black sheriff
Thursday, 06 December 2018 16:48

From Staff Reports

By a resounding margin, Democrat Quentin Miller was elected Buncombe County’s new sheriff and the first-ever African-American to hold the position during the Nov. 6 general election.

He triumphed despite a hard-fought battle with — and a surge in last-minute campaigning from — Shad Higgins, his Republican opponent and owner of a Weaverville tire and wheel shop.

Miller, a 25-year veteran of the Asheville Police Department, won 61.5 percent of the vote; Higgins, 35.5 percent; and Libertarian candidate Tracey DeBruhl, 3 percent. DeBruhl was jailed on a stalking charge in September,

“We now must work together as a community,” Miller said at his victory party late on Nov. 6, according to the Asheville Citizen Times.

“We must come together with the local government, with the communities and law enforcement as one. We have to address our issues in that fashion, in that way. And we all must have a place at the table and we must learn to work together to solve our issues and problems.”

Sheriff Van Duncan, who is retiring after 12 years at the helm, did not publicly endorse a candidate in the race to replace him.

Nonetheless, Miller promised during his campaign to pick up where Duncan left off. Miller told the ACT that he has no plans to clean house, but that does not mean he will leave the upper administration unscathed. 

“I don’t think we’re going to have any significant changes, as far as the personnel,” Miller told the ACT. “I think we have to look at the top people in administration. I think we’re going to have to change that. But I think as far as guys out there working, that doesn’t change for me. I think we need each and every one. It’s our community. It’s our department.”

“I think – and I really mean this – I think when people get into law enforcement, they do it for the right reasons,” Miller said. 

“They do it because they care about the community they serve. So I don’t anticipate (any) real changes, because we still have the same mindset that we want to do what’s right for our community.”

Chief deputy Terry Rogers actively campaigned for Higgins during the election and reportedly was present at the Republican election results party at Twisted Laurel in Leicester on Election Night.

Miller promised during his campaign to focus on de-escalation training, jail diversion and increased community interaction — all recommendations of former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the ACT reported, adding that he also said on Election Night that he wants to quickly organize some “town hall meetings” to gauge the most important issues to the community.

Higgins thanked his supporters on Nov. 6 and congratulated Miller on his victory. While he was surprised by the results, including GOP defeats in other local races, he told the ACT, “We’ve done everything we could,” “I don’t know we could’ve done anything different to make up that kind of margin.”



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