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Griffin, Brown endorse Katz over McDonald

Marty Katz. Marty Katz.

Martin "Marty" Katz, the Democratic nominee for Henderson County sheriff, has claimed the endorsement of two Republicans — former sheriff's captain Tim Griffin and three-time sheriff's candidate Michael Brown.


Griffin, who retired from the sheriff's office in April, ran for sheriff in 2006 and lost a close race to incumbent Tommy Thompson in the May 6 primary for a seat on the Board of Commissioners.
Brown, a State Highway Patrol trooper, finished second to Sheriff Charlie McDonald in the May 6 primary in his third attempt at the county's top law enforcement job.
"I looked at his work history, his resume," Griffin said of Katz. "He's been very involved in working with all type of services. I think he's the one that will keep politics out of the office the most."
During the spring campaign, both Brown and candidate Erik Summey said they would ensure due process protection for deputies before making demotions, transfers or terminations. Summey won the endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association after he said he would not use North Carolina's "at-will" employment law, which allows firings for no reason.
"I don't have anything negative to say about Charlie," said Griffin, whom McDonald demoted from captain to lieutenant. "This is just about looking at his resume and what Marty can bring to this office, just taking the politics out of the position."
As for endorsing a Democrat in heavily Republican Henderson County, Griffin said he considers a sheriff's role nonpartisan.
"As far as law enforcement goes or anything to do with the job, the objectives are nonpartisan," he said. "Any law enforcement position should be non-partisan to start with. I don't think that comes into play. You're not going to run the sheriff's department based on political affiliation. The commissioners are going to have to approve his budget anyway. I don't think that's going to be an issue."
Brown also confirmed his endorsement of Katz.
"He's the most qualified man for the job," he said. "I'm not going to vote for party. I'm going to vote for the most qualified man. Charlie's not the most qualified. If I thought he was I wouldn't have run against him."
Brown said he agrees with what Katz has been calling his theme of "public safety over politics."
"I totally agree with it," Brown said. "Charlie talked throughout the whole campaign about how morale is the highest it's ever been. That's certainly not true. It's the worst it's ever been."
Brown said he is willing to publicly support Katz in the fall campaign.
"I'm going to talk for him," he said. "Anything I believe in I'm going to support. I just can't support the interim sheriff."
Katz, who applied for the appointment when the county Republican Executive Committee recommended a new sheriff in 2012, said he appreciated the two endorsements.
"They've been doing what they can," Katz said. "They've been very vocal on Facebook."
Katz said he started his police career walking a beat in a small town in New Jersey and retired from the Broward County Sheriff's Department, the largest fully accredited sheriff's office in the U.S. His 19 years of supervisory experience, his campaign says, includes leadership in recruiting, crime suppression, property crimes, undercover narcotics and a crimes-in-progress unit.
In addition, his resume says, he is a trained martial arts instructor, a 7th degree black belt and a court-recognized expert on use of force. He developed a policy called the Department Accountability Program, which he says is used across the country.
"I'm going to offer something totally different," Katz said. "My theme is public safety over politics. When we had job security, morale went up."
The department under his leadership, he said, would not demote, transfer or fire deputies without due process.
"If you do your job, you have a job," he said. "If you break a policy or break a law, that's it. But the only way (otherwise) you'd get transferred is if it benefits you and the department. It won't be done punitively like it is now."


He said he will accept no campaign donations from anyone who works for the sheriff's office nor from vendors doing business with the department.
Despite the long odds of running against an incumbent Republican in a county that regularly rejects Democratic nominees by wide margins, Katz said he has gotten positive response.
"Let's just say I have my finger on the pulse of the county," he said.