Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes announced Wednesday that he will step down from office to take the position of assistant director for Homeland Security with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Hughes held an impromptu press conference Wednesday afternoon to make the announcement. His last day as sheriff will be Aug. 17. He will start his new job in Montgomery on Aug. 18.
He said the governor will appoint a new sheriff to serve for the next several months. The Houston County Republican Executive Committee will have to appoint a candidate to take Hughes’ place on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election.
Hughes stopped short of calling it a resignation, referring to it more as leaving the position of sheriff for another job.
“This is a wonderful opportunity, and one I just couldn’t pass up,” Hughes said. “It’s been an honor to serve as the sheriff of Houston County. It’s been the best job I’ve had in law enforcement, thus far.”
Hughes called the decision to leave the sheriff’s office bittersweet.
“I’ve enjoyed being the sheriff. I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” Hughes said. “It hurts to leave, but I look forward to the new challenge.”
Hughes has spent over 20 years in law enforcement, all in Houston County. He first started work in Houston County as a dispatcher at the age of 18, and he continued to work as a deputy until 1990 when he left to become a Dothan police officer. He served as a Dothan police officer, working his way up to sergeant, until 2006 when he ran for the position of sheriff.
Hughes was first elected sheriff in 2006, defeating incumbent sheriff Lamar Glover with more than 16,000 votes to Glover’s nearly 9,500 votes.
In 2010, Hughes ran for re-election and faced a former sheriff’s deputy, Eddie Ingram, who Hughes defeated, 23,488 votes to 8,972 votes for Ingram.
Hughes has spent seven and a half years as the sheriff of Houston County.
John Gormley, the chairman of the Houston County Republican Executive Committee, said the governor will appoint someone to serve as the interim sheriff until January. He said interim sheriff will serve until January because that’s when the sheriff elected in November will take office.
“It wouldn’t be unusual for the governor’s office to call and discuss it with us,” Gormley said. “It would be usual for someone from the appointments office to call me.”
Gormley said the members of the Houston County Republican Executive Committee will select the Republican candidate to go on the ballot for the November election. He said the 62-member committee will meet on July 28 to make the decision.
“Anyone who is interested in being on the ballot in November can come to our committee meeting. They will be given an opportunity to tell us how and why they’re qualified to be the next sheriff,” Gormley said. “Our committee will vote by paper ballot and there will be someone selected from those people who are interviewed.”
But Gormley said not just anyone can show up for an interview. He said potential candidates have to be a Houston County resident, qualify as sheriff with no felony convictions, no domestic violence convictions and be able to legally possess a firearm. He also said any potential candidate must also be 21 years old.
The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn located on the west side of Dothan on Ross Clark Circle.
“Coincidentally, that’s how Andy Hughes got on the ballot and was elected. Now what we’re going to do is fill Andy’s position with a candidate that the committee selects. It’s kind of coming full circle,” Gormley said. “There are no democrats who qualified, and it’s too late for any independents to qualify. Whoever we put on the ballot will be the next sheriff.”
Gormley encouraged anyone interested to call him at 334-333-5646 to get on the meeting agenda because there will be no walk-in interviews.
Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver said he didn't speak with Hughes prior to the announcement, which caught him off guard.
But he said there are no hard feelings and he understands the sheriff's decision.
"I congratulate the sheriff. It sounds like a great opportunity for him," Culver said. "He’s done a great job in Houston County, but we never begrudge anyone for taking advantage of opportunities to advance themselves. It's our loss but the state’s gain."
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