Monday, December 22, 2014

Sheriff drops GOP position in preparation for primary

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 11/22/2013

Serving as both Franklin County sheriff and chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee was spreading Jeff Richards too thin, he said.

Richards, who has led the local GOP the past 3 1/2 years, tendered his resignation at Monday’s Republican Central Committee meeting, he said.

Serving as both Franklin County sheriff and chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee was spreading Jeff Richards too thin, he said.

Richards, who has led the local GOP the past 3 1/2 years, tendered his resignation at Monday’s Republican Central Committee meeting, he said.

“[Being chairman] takes a lot of time and so does sheriff,” Richards said. “I don’t have the time to devote to [both].”

He’d been planning his resignation for a few months, Richards said, but waited until after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a leading Republican presidential contender in 2008, came to town.

“It has been my intention to step down,” he said. “We had been working on that event for quite awhile and the executive committee asked I stay on to continue and work on the event while it was going on.”

A “Star Spangled Evening with Mike Huckabee” came to the Ottawa Municipal Auditorium, 301 S. Hickory St., Nov. 2 and was a success, Richards said.

“I thought it was good and it was successful,” he said. “Lots of people showed up for it and that’s what we wanted to do. It was a large grassroots effort, and the people could participate in the big event. We don’t always get someone on a national stage to come to Franklin County and we were able to do that and that was successful.”

Though he submitted his resignation Monday, Richards said, it won’t be effective until after his successor has been selected by the county’s Republican Central Committee group.

“It should happen at the Dec. 9 meeting,” he said. “Any Republican can [be the successor] but they’d have to have a member [of the committee] nominate them to the position.”

Richards said the committee will continue to play an active role in the community and the state.

“I haven’t been able to devote the time that [the committee] needs or that I would want to,” he said. “[The committee] is involved not just locally, but we have members of the local committee that serve on various boards and committees for the second district as well as at the state level and I expect those things will continue.”

He might be resigning as chairman, but that doesn’t mean the sheriff’s ties with the GOP will be completely cut, he said.

“Now I hold a public office as a Republican, so I’ll still have involvement with the Republican Party,” Richards said. “And I’ll be running in an election here soon.”

In his letter of resignation to the committee, Richards said the coming August primary election for Franklin County sheriff would distract him from his chairman duties.

“My governor’s appointment [as sheriff] expires in January 2015,” Richards said in his letter. “This means I will participate in a primary election in August 2014. This county-wide campaign will take a lot of time and energy. As a result, I will not be able to devote the time and energy necessary to serve as an effective chairman.”

Who the committee chooses as his successor is up to them, Richards said, and he hopes whomever the committee picks will receive the community’s support.

“I’d like to see [the successor] get the support of the committee,” he said. “How they do and what they do with it, that’s going be their ball to carry, so I’ll let them do it.”

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