Retired Chief Deputy to file for Lenoir County Sheriff - WRBL

Retired Chief Deputy to file for Lenoir County Sheriff

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KINSTON, N.C. - Citizens in Lenoir County will have a choice for sheriff in November.

Retired Chief Deputy Rickie Pearson will file to run at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

For the past couple months, he's been collecting signatures to run unaffiliated. He needed to collect 1,557 in order to file.

According to Dana King, the director of the Lenoir County Board of Elections, Pearson has collected nearly 2,000 signatures.

Pearson tells 9 on Your Side, "I have the skills, knowledge and experience to be sheriff. I spent 38 years with the Sheriff’s Office."

He says if elected, his main concern is to get more deputies on patrol and to be seen in the community.

Once he files, Pearson’s name will be on the ballot to run against democrat Ronnie Ingram on November 4.

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Some call the Lenoir County sheriff’s race an upset, others say it was expected.

Ronnie Ingram beat out current sheriff, Chris Hill, for the democratic nomination, getting about two-thirds of the votes.

"I feel like I fell victim to voter apathy," said Sheriff Hill.

Hill has been spent 31 years with the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office. He started as a dispatcher in 1983 and worked his way up the ranks. He was appointed sheriff last year. Yet come December, someone else will be in that position.

In an exclusive interview with 9 On Your Side, Sheriff Hill says he’s disappointed with voter turnout and thinks those who did vote, may have voted based on race.

"To be quite canon with you, he was a white candidate and he was a black candidate,” said Sheriff Hill. "And I hate that things come down to things like that I feel like it should be the merit of that person."

As for the democratic victor, Ingram says his race had nothing to do with the race.

"It was a matter of getting out and talking to people. I talked to white and black. It was not any one race or another,” said Ingram. “It wasn't just one race that made this possible so to say that, I think that's really irresponsible."

Ingram worked 25 years in Lenoir County with the Kinston Department of Public Safety. He retired as a major last year. He hopes December 1 is the start to several more years in law enforcement.

"It was time for a change,” said Ingram. “It's time to put somebody different in office that has every body's interest."

Ingram will advance to the November election. While, right now, he is running unopposed, that could change.

Retired chief deputy and 38 year Lenoir County Sheriff's Office veteran, Rickie Pearson, is collecting signatures to run unaffiliated. He has to get about 400 more in the next month to run.

In the meantime, Sheriff Hill says he's still running the sheriff's office as he’s supposed to do.

"I’m going to leave Lenoir County in better shape than I found it,” said Hill. “I can assure you that.”

Sheriff Hill says he will retire in December and look into other career opportunities.

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