Closing a special session of the Van Buren County Quorum Court Thursday, Sept. 28, Randy Gurley was elected as Sheriff, to replace outgoing Sheriff Scott Bradley.
Gurley, at the time the department's Chief Deputy, will complete Bradley's term, which expires in 2018. By the nature of appointment Gurley will be ineligible to run for sheriff in the next election.
One other person had submitted a resume for consideration by the court as Bradley's replacement: Local business owner and police officer Darriel Ezell. Both Ezell and Gurley were given three minutes to publically present to the court why they felt they were the best choice, each citing their experience. Ezell pointed to his experience as a businessman with the ability to manage, and Gurley with his long experience with the sheriff's department. After their presentations the Court went into executive session, to both interview the candidates and presumably consider each candidate's qualities before making a public vote as to which candidate was chosen.
(Executive session is typically used by a legislative body to discuss personnel issues. It is a private meeting, although votes are made publically.)
The executive session was long, running from 7:10 to 9:45 p.m., with each candidate brought in for private interviews during that time. The court then presented and voted on Gurley, who was accepted in a 5-3 vote. (JP Dale James did not participate in the process, due to his business dealing with Ezell could be a conflict of interest.)
The next morning at the Sheriff's office was the expected bustle, as Gurley arranged to move from his current office into Bradley's soon-to-be former office.
In interview, Gurley said some changes could be expected at the Sheriff's office with his moving into his new role. He implied tightening up on various department operations.
“We got to a better job in patrol, we got to do a better job in the jail, and we've got to do a better job in C.I.D.” he said. (C.I.D. is the investigation arm.) He went on to state that faster response times and more timely interaction with those needing department services would be a priority, specifically pointing to the need for faster returns on phone calls.
He expected to have several one-on-one conversations come Monday, Gurley said.
Gurley was careful to make one point in particular, referring to outgoing Sheriff Bradley: “I've got some mighty big shoes to fill,” Gurley said, “Scott Bradley was a good friend and a good sheriff.”
Gurley was sworn in as Sheriff Saturday night, Sept. 30, the official end of Bradley's term and the official initiation of his term.