Deputies fired for political ambition - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Deputies fired for political ambition

March 20, 2008

Adel --  Two Cook County Sheriff's deputies say they were asked to leave their jobs shortly after signing a declaration of intent to run for sheriff.

Former deputy Tim Balch says the sheriff accused them of campaigning on the job. But he claims they've done everything above the board. He says this violates department policy, and he wants his job back.

Tim Balch worked for the Cook County Sheriff's Office for five years. He says he was caught off guard when he was fired this week.

 "I had very high employee rating all the time. Every time that they gave the employee ratings, mine was high. Plus, I just got promoted to lieutenant. two months ago," Balch said.

He says Sheriff Charles Bryant called him and transport officer Waldo Warren into his office Monday. Both had just announced their intent to run for sheriff.

 "He told me you are passing out cards and putting up road signs out of your patrol car and I haven't had any road signs or cards made. I mentioned that fact to him and he said you'd either have to resign or be fire right not," said Balch.

We obtained a copy of the department's policy on politics. It say an employee must resign from the department once he becomes a candidate. But qualification doesn't begin for another month and a half and Balch says no qualification fees have been paid.

"We were both caught very off guard. We thought maybe after qualifying took place he might bring us in and talk to us about conflict of interest and the like but he didn't bring us in and talk to us about anything except that now's the time and your are going to resign or be fired."

Both say they still plan to run for Sheriff but would love to return to work until they do.

So far, five people have announced they're running for to replace the retiring Charles Bryant as Cook County Sheriff.

The Sheriff's Office says they weren't fired and both men even signed letters of resignation to run for sheriff.  Balch claims they were forced resignations.

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