There are likely only a handful of statements on which political opponents Bobby Grubbs and Kim Gilliam can agree.
Grubbs, 63, is seeking a second term as Brown County sheriff in the November election on the Republican ticket. Not much dispute there.
Gilliam, 46, a former deputy who worked for three sheriffs including Grubbs, is challenging Grubbs as a Democrat. She’s the first woman to ever run for sheriff in Brown County. Again, no dispute.
As for how the sheriff’s job should be done and who’s the best qualified - there is probably not a thimbleful of common ground between the two.
Grubbs said he’s wanted to campaign on issues and qualifications. He said he never intended to get drawn into what he said are “rumors and innuendoes” propagated by Gilliam, but when she took an allegation about Grubbs’ office to the Bulletin and to county commissioners recently, Grubbs said he’s responding.
Gilliam, who resigned from the sheriff’s office in January 2006 after 14 years with the sheriff’s office, said she hasn’t started rumors but is dealing in facts.
The issue: Grubbs, Gilliam said, gave a secretary a county car to drive to placate her after she had threatened to quit over a pay issue.
That’s unethical, Gilliam said.
Grubbs said he has done nothing wrong in temporarily assigning a Volkswagen Jetta, which deputies seized in a drug raid two years ago, to criminal investigation division secretary Pattimae Furry as a take-home vehicle. He said it’s necessary for her work and is a non-issue.
“Kim’s hunting dirt,” he said.
“They just don’t like me because I’m a female and they don’t think a female can do the job,” Gilliam countered. “No, I’m not (hunting dirt). Why would I be hunting dirt?”
“It’s not our intention to start rumors or innuendoes but we are going to respond to allegations,” Grubbs said, referring to the issue of the car assigned to Furry. “It appears to me she’s trying to find some kind of rumor to start to discredit the sheriff’s office.
“ … When she left here she was a disgruntled employee and had problems following our policies and procedures, which led to reprimands and eventually her resignation.
“ … I don’t feel like she’s qualified to be sheriff. She’s got minimal requirements to be a deputy sheriff, based on past performance.”
‘Was not disgruntled’
Gilliam said, “For years, I was the only female deputy. I worked my tail off. … No, I was not disgruntled. My main concern is the citizens of Brown County.
“Oh, yes I do (have qualifications). I’ve had the training. … I’m a female and they don’t think I know what I’m doing. That’s all it amounts to. I’m a female.”
Investigator Lana Guthrie said Gilliam‘s gender “has absolutely nothing to do with being able to do the job. If we didn’t believe in (Grubbs), we wouldn’t work here.”
Grubbs said while he takes Gilliam’s candidacy seriously and thinks she does want to be sheriff, he believes her initial motivation may have been to cause him “as much grief as she could.”
Gilliam said while she wasn’t disgruntled, she was “disheartened” over Grubbs’ decision to fire Chief Deputy Mike McCoy, investigator Scott Martin and Jail Administrator Mary Barron a few weeks after taking office.
“To move the administration forward, I had to fill it with people who would work toward my goals,” Grubbs said.
Gilliam said the idea she wanted to cause “grief” for Grubbs is absurd. “You think I’d spend $20,000 to aggravate that man?” Gilliam asked.
Gilliam started working for the sheriff’s office in 1992 as a jailer, and became a deputy in 1996. As a deputy, Gilliam said earlier, she maintained all civil process documents, financial documents, prepared monthly reports for the Brown County Auditor’s Office and was a transport deputy.
After resigning from the sheriff’s office, Gilliam went to work for The Ark Domestic Violence Shelter as a sexual assault/legal advocate. She resigned earlier this year to work on her campaign for sheriff.
Gilliam said she’ll be a “24-hour working sheriff” who spends time in the jail and rides out with deputies. She said she’ll hold monthly forums for the public to address issues including drugs, burglaries and criminal mischief.
Grubbs has nearly 40 years in law enforcement, and he retired as a Texas Ranger in 2003.
Grubbs said his administration has “completely restructured the sheriff’s office and I feel like we’ve made it more proficient, more productive, more progressive and we hold ourselves and our personnel accountable for their actions. I feel like we’ve made some major strides, especially in narcotics.”
Gilliam said she resigned from the sheriff’s office “because of the administration.” She also said she resigned after being angered at the way Chief Deputy Bobby Duvall spoke to her in a disciplinary session.
“He was right in my face and he was screaming,” Gilliam said. “They had written me up. … I was not going to take Duvall talking to me the way he did. Period.” She said Duvall apologized in a recent phone conversation.
Duvall had a different recollection. He said he spoke respectfully to her but “it was a strong meeting. We wanted to make it clear to her that she needed to conform to our expectations or further discipline was going to occur.”
Duvall said he didn’t apologize in the recent phone conversation but told her he was sorry if she got her feelings hurt.
Capt. Ellis Johnson said he was present when Duvall spoke with Gilliam during the disciplinary session. “Duvall doesn’t scream at anybody,” he said. “There was a discussion. There was a reprimand. It might not have been what she wanted to hear, but it was true.”
Johnson said he thinks Gilliam “has personal reasons for running for sheriff and that’s her business. I think she wasn’t happy when she left here and she thinks she can fix whatever she thinks was wrong when she left, and that’s her right. I think the problem now is, this has gotten personal.”