DOBSON — Another employee at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office is tossing his hat in the ring for the top job.
On Wednesday Mike Creed, who retired from the sheriff’s office as a lieutenant in 2016, confirmed he will be seeking his party’s appointment to fill the vacancy Sheriff Graham Atkinson will leave behind in April.
Atkinson, who has been the sheriff since 2006, announced he will leave his post on April 28, to take a position on the N.C. Post-Release and Parole Board.
The Surry County Democrat Executive Committee will appoint Atkinson’s successor, who will fill the remainder of Atkinson’s term in office and face a bid to be retained in the 2018 election cycle.
Atkinson has thrown his support behind Chief Deputy Jimmy Combs, who has served with the department for more than three decades and in the chief deputy role since before Atkinson was elected sheriff.
However, Creed said he has some support within the ranks of the executive committee, and he is working to garner more. He received a number of phone calls from party leaders asking him to seek the appointment before making his decision to square off against Combs.
“The office has been held to pretty high standards, but there is always room for improvement,” said Creed of his motivation for running. “We’ve got a good office, but I want to keep trying to make it better.”
The 56-year-old White Plains resident said if he is appointed, he will run for a full term in 2018, something he noted party leaders will expect of anyone they name to fill Atkinson’s unexpired term in office.
Atkinson has also said Combs is ready to run a campaign in 2018, having been alongside the sheriff for each of his three winning campaigns.
Creed said one priority he has for the office is increasing drug-resistance education. Given the public perception of law enforcement throughout the nation, he also believes the department must work hard to show the public “we are here for them.”
While Creed retired from the sheriff’s office in 2016, he couldn’t stay out of the law enforcement field for long. A month after retiring he signed on to work part time for the department, and he remains employed on a part-time basis as a deputy sheriff.
Prior to his retirement, Creed said he worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years. Though a handful of those years was spent with a state agency, he worked for the sheriff’s office throughout the majority of his career. He has also taught law enforcement classes at Surry Community College for the past 16 years.
Creed noted Democrats in Surry County will gather for the party’s convention on Saturday, where he will address party leaders and explain his intention to seek the appointment.
At that convention precinct chairs will be picked and party leadership elected, and those are the people who will decide who will serve out Atkinson’s term.
By statute, the executive committee will have 30 days to select Atkinson’s replacement once the sheriff’s resignation is effective on April 28.
The committee will then forward its recommendation to the Surry County Board of Commissioners, which is bound by statute to appoint the individual selected by the party to fill the unexpired term.
Should the office of sheriff remain vacant for any period of time, state statute requires that Combs, in his role as chief deputy, assume the responsibilities of the sheriff position until the vacancy is filled.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.