Incumbent Monroe Sheriff Files Suit To Stop Opponent From Taking Office

Aug 20, 2014

Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens (left) and challenger Randy White (right).
Credit Monroe County Sheriff's Office (l), Advocate and Democrat (r)

Early next month, Monroe County is supposed to say goodbye to its current sheriff and welcome a new one. But Sheriff Bill Bivins doesn't think that should happen.

Bivins, a Democrat, has filed a lawsuit against the Monroe County Election Commission and his Republican opponent, Randy White. Bivins says White is not legally qualified to hold office and wants the election either declared in his favor, or voided entirely.

The suit is the latest in a tortuous path that began before the August 7 election and continues today. Earlier this year, a question about White's eligibility for office prompted a probe by the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission. In July, the panel found that White didn't have required service time as a local police officer. Bivins says that ruled out White as a viable candidate under state law. The POST commission forwarded the results of its investigation to the Monroe County Election Commission and to local prosecutors. But White's name remained on the August ballot.

Bivins says that means the 5,572 votes cast for White are invalid. White and his attorney maintain that he is eligible for office, and that he plans to take office on September 3.

Bivins' lawsuit isn't the only one in progress related to the sheriff's election. The Monroe County Democratic Party filed a suit of its own this month, and a special judge has been appointed to hear the case.