STEVE CLARK says he is a candidate for sheriff of Grady County. (submitted photo)
Former chief investigator Steve Clark has announced he will run for sheriff of Grady County this year, a goal he says he has long set for himself.
Clark, 52, is currently assistant police chief with Southern Regional Technical College. “For me, running for sheriff is not a decision. It’s a calling,” states Clark.
The 1986 graduate of Cairo High School worked at the Grady County Sheriff’s Office from January 1999 until April 2018 when he was fired by incumbent Grady County Sheriff Harry Young.
Clark says he worked five years on patrol, three years in investigations and 14 years as chief investigator and narcotics investigator for the Grady County Sheriff’s Office.
“I have investigated or been involved in the investigation and prosecution of cases in all levels of courts, including municipal, juvenile, magistrate, state, superior and federal,” said Clark.
The lawman says if elected, he would encourage teamwork and continued education. “I am a believer in leading from the front, and my message to the current and future employees of the department is that this will be a team effort,” said Clark. “I will expect your officers to be the best they can be, and they will receive the training necessary to accomplish that goal.
“We simply cannot afford to be complacent in our approach to crime prevention and must be diligent in our preparedness to handle whatever comes our way,” he continued.
At the time of his release from duty, Clark declined to comment on the situation. Sheriff Young said he fired Clark for insubordination, saying Clark met with the leadership of the Grady County Commission and a county employee without Young’s knowledge about a personnel matter at the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Young contended Clark should not have attended the meeting without Young. The purpose of the meeting revolved around whether Sheriff’s Investigator Tito Hall should receive his paycheck since he had exhausted his paid sick leave after back surgery, according to Young. The sheriff said he had allowed Hall to work from home and collect a paycheck, and as a constitutional officer has the right to decide how to spend his budget, although the amount of his budget is set by the county commission. The sheriff said he was at a Kiwanis golf scramble out of town the day of the meeting, and did not see an email Clark had sent him about the matter the day before or a text message shortly before the gathering.
In his announcement about his candidacy, Clark did not reference Young by name or his termination from duty. He said he would be humbled and thrilled if he was elected sheriff.
“If I am elected, I know I am directly accountable to you every four years, and at that time the community has a choice to reaffirm their trust in the current sheriff or vote for new leadership,” said Clark. “Serving as your sheriff would be an awesome job that comes with an enormous responsibility to protect our county’s residents and provide a safe community for them and their families. I want to be that person for Grady County.”