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Tim Griffin, a law enforcement officer and firefighter for 30 years, plans to run for the Henderson County Board of Commissioners seat held by Tommy Thompson.
Griffin, a Republican, ran for sheriff in 2006 in a three-way primary that Rick Davis won. Griffin has worked for the Hendersonville police department, the Henderson County Sheriff's Department and three volunteer fire departments.
Griffin ran for the open sheriff's seat in 2006 when he was a lieutenant with the Hendersonville police department. Two years later, Davis hired him as a captain in the Sheriff's Department. Griffin was among 11 candidates who applied for the top post after Davis resigned in 2011.
Griffin said in an interview that his job at the sheriff's department in purchasing showed him how government can wisely use taxpayers' dollars.
"I got a lot more focused on the finances and some of the expenditures I've seen (in the county) don't make sense to me," he said.
Griffin, 49, announced his candidacy on Facebook in a Clemson orange campaign sign on Sunday and then in a news release on Monday. He plans to retire from the Sheriff's Department on May 1, five days before the May 6 primary election. Filing for state and local offices is Feb. 10-28.
"I would run no matter what district I was in," he said, adding that he was not specifically targeting Thompson, the longtime Clerk of Superior Court who won the apple country District 4 seat without opposition in 2010. "I was born and raised in Henderson County. I worry about what goes on in Henderson County. I grew up here and my kids are going to grow up here. I care about what happens in my town."
"Dealing with all the sheriff's department money, I treated it probably 10 times better than I treated my own money," he said. "Last year I ended up getting everything we needed and still turning in money at the end of the year."
Although Griffin said he has made no commitment in terms of a vote for chairmanship or specific positions, he had on his Facebook page sided with Commissioner Grady Hawkins in a recent power dispute. Hawkins objected to the closed meetings involving the county manager, chairman and vice chairman for setting the agenda for board meetings, causing the board to streamline the way it sets topics for discussion and giving all commissioners greater authority to add items.
"I don't like having two people set what they want to set on the consent agenda," Griffin said, referring to the scheduled items that are handled routinely without board discussion.
The 2014 election has the potential to shift a narrow 3-2 balance of power on the five-member commission. Chairman Charlie Messer, Vice Chairman Thompson and Commissioner Michael Edney have outvoted Hawkins and Commissioner Larry Young on the chairmanship and on a 1.4-cent property tax cut Hawkins proposed.
"I'm not committed to anybody," Griffin said. "That's not even being discussed. I've talked to all of them to see what the job entails. This is branching out for me. It's something I want to do. I've been serving Henderson County all my life."
"I haven't decided" on whether to run for a second term, said Thompson, who has won countywide election nine times, eight as clerk of court, while having opposition just twice. "I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Tim's a fine fellow. I don't know what else to say. If I decide to run I'm running to win. I've been working for the county for 36 years. I've been trying to do a good job for the county. That's all I've ever really wanted to do."
Griffin said he favors a tax cut and also wants to fund school resource officers in every middle school in the county. The deputies assigned to middle schools could also be assigned as satellite SROs to the feeder elementary schools in the middle school district, he said.
"Another focus will be on making sure public safety organizations, EMS, Fire Departments, and Law Enforcement, have the funds to properly protect our county," he said in a news release. "The ability to lower taxes, no matter how slight, would be a benefit to both our citizens and businesses. As a responsible commissioner, having a safe fund balance is a must, but if there is a way to tap into that fund in order to save our taxpayers money, that should be accomplished."
"Providing the funds to the school board so it is possible to get our teachers a larger pay supplement is imperative," he added in the news release. "Our teachers teach our kids at least 8 hours a day and then spend countless unpaid hours preparing lesson plans, grading papers, and even tutoring. We owe it to our teachers to pay them well, so we don't lose them to other counties."
Griffin becomes the second challenger to announce his candidacy for the Board of Commissioners. Andrew Riddle, a homebuilder and a resident of Flat Rock, plans to run against Edney.
Besides his work in law enforcement and the Valley Hill Fire and Rescue Department, Griffin has been involved as a volunteer for youth for many years. He has been a volunteer for the Special Olympics and DARE, the drug awareness program in elementary schools, and he coaches Jayvee girls softball at East Henderson High School and operates a deejay business for parties. A member of Mud Creek Baptist Church, he works with the youth as well as in the nursery.
Griffin is married to Paula Caulder Griffin, who is employed by Park Ridge Health. They have two daughters, Jordan, 23, a graduate of Western Carolina University, and Lindsey, 16, a junior at East Henderson High School.
At the sheriff's department he is a major incidents commander, supply lieutenant, contracts supervisor and SRO supervisor. He had worked at the Hendersonville Police Department for 24 years when he went to the sheriff's office in 2012. He served as captain from 2008 to 2012 and has been a lieutenant since 2012.
He has also been a city firefighter and EMT and a deputy chief of Valley Hill Fire & Rescue and is currently on the roster of the Mountain Home and Dana volunteer fire departments.