Metcalfe County Sheriff Lonnie Hodges said he knew nothing about a meeting of the Metcalfe County Republican Committee during which a candidate was nominated to run for sheriff in the November general election.
The Metcalfe County Republican Committee held an emergency meeting on Aug. 6. It was during that meeting that the committee unanimously nominated Charles Costello to be the Republican candidate for the sheriff's position in November.
“No one was made aware of the meeting,” Hodges said Wednesday. “Nobody even knew this was going on.”
And he's not alone. Other Republicans, some of which were also interested in filing for the position, say they also didn't know about the meeting.
Joshua Neal has filed to seek the sheriff's position as a write-in candidate and said he did so, because: “They left me no choice.”
“The Republican committee got together behind everybody's backs and voted Costello in,” he said.
Metcalfe County Judge-Executive Harold Stilts also said he knew nothing about the committee's emergency meeting.
Stilts is actually a member of the selection committee for the Republican party in Metcalfe County and has been so for about a month.
“They said they tried to contact me but I never did receive any. That was on a Tuesday. I went to Ricky Brooks' funeral at 2 o'clock and it was late when that was finished up. I had a 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Extension office that afternoon. I never did receive anything if they tried to get a hold of me,” Stilts said, adding he had no messages at his office or at his home.
Brooks served as Metcalfe County's sheriff for about a year. He died from leukemia on Aug. 3. His funeral was on Aug. 6. On Aug. 7, Stilts appointed Hodges as sheriff. Hodges, who had been acting sheriff during Brooks' absence from office during his illness, will serve as sheriff until November.
After administering the oath of office to Hodges, Stilts then spoke with Danny Holley, chairman of the committee, and he told Stilts the committee had already selected a candidate the previous night.
“That was a rushed up thing because it was on Tuesday night,” Stilts said, adding that the committee had until 4 p.m. on the following Tuesday, Aug. 13, to nominate a candidate for the sheriff's position.
The judge-executive continued that he thinks the committee should have advertised the emergency meeting better. Even though the local newspaper in the county is a weekly, he said the committee could have asked the local radio station to announce the date, time and location of the meeting, and invite candidates who wanted to be considered for the sheriff's position.
“Those candidates could have come and presented themselves and spoke to the committee, and then the committee should have voted by secret ballot; put them in a bucket or whatever and then the chairman should have read the vote totals to everyone. But that did not happen,” he said.
At this point, Stilts thinks there's going to be some challenges to the process that has already taken place and said he has heard some rumors to that effect.
“As far as me making any challenges, I can't. It will have to be a candidate who wanted to be considered. According to due process, he was never given the opportunity to be considered. I don't know what all the legal actions are but I understand there are going to be some things come about,” he said.
But Paulette Yates, vice chair of the Metcalfe County Republican Committee, said Danny Holley, who was chairman of the committee at the time, called all members of the committee and asked for the emergency meeting. Holley has since resigned from his position as chair of the committee.
“They were all called. At least one member was called and a message was left. One member denied being called, but we did ask Danny Holley to maintain that call record on his phone, so we do have it,” Yates said.
She explained that due to the guidelines set forth by the Republican party, Holley determined there was not time to call a meeting and do it in writing as is usually required.
“We are allowed to call a meeting in less than three days by calling all members, which is what transpired,” Yates said, adding that Holley called all known members of the committee, people who had attended past meetings, as well as the board of directors.
In her opinion, the emergency meeting of the committee was conducted legally according to the committee's bylaws.
Other candidates aside from Costello were discussed during the meeting.
Hodges, who is interested in the sheriff's position, said he only recently learned of the process for becoming a Republican candidate.
He is now looking at his options and he has several from which to choose.
“There is always a legal challenge and filing as a write-in candidate,” he said. “Then there is the other option and that is walking away from all of it.”
The deadline in which to file as an independent candidate for the sheriff's position was on Tuesday. No one filed to represent the independent political party.
Neal is currently the chief of police for the Metcalfe County School's Police Department, a position he began in April.
He says the Republican party in Metcalfe County is now divided because of what has happened.
There have been three others, aside from Neal, to file for candidacy as write-in candidates. They are: Scotty Posey, D; Chris Turner, R; and Dalton Bragg, D.
The deadline in which to file as a write-in candidate is not until Oct. 25, and Hodges said he anticipates there will be more people who will file to run as write-in candidates.