New Monroe County sheriff sworn in despite lawsuit calling him 'unqualified'

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MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Sheriff-elect Randy White took the oath of office Thursday night, after a commanding victory in the August election.

But it's a victory defeated sheriff Bill Bivens says never should have happened.

"Had he been qualified, I wouldn't have had a problem. I think it's just unfair," Bivens said.

Bivens is suing White and the election commission, claiming White didn't meet the state standards to run. In Tennessee, a sheriff candidate must have served as a full-time officer for three out of the last ten years.

The Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST), a state regulatory agency, certified White to run back in November. With only weeks before the election, the commission revoked their certification, after investigating his work history.

It's a move White's attorney calls political.

"There's a lot of issues being looked at as to whether he meets the three in ten years experience, and we think he has," Charles Burks, White's attorney, said.

Jerome Melson, Monroe County attorney, says even though the POST Commission released the results of their investigation before the election, the election commission kept White's name on the ballot, since he was qualified when he signed up to run. There was no ruling by a judge to remove him.

"The County is not clairvoyant, and is not capable of foreseeing that the POST Commission might change it's mind months down the road," Melson said.

White's supporters feel he's more than qualified, and they say the vote, a 703 margin, should speak for itself.

"The Monroe voters elected a sheriff, and it's obvious from the vote count. It wasn't by two votes," Regina Williams said.

"He's gonna win this. He's gonna get this over with, put it behind him, and like I said, he's gonna be the best Monroe County sheriff we've ever had," Brent Miller said.

Bivens disagrees that the lawsuit is political.

"Had this been a fair election, we wouldn't be here right now. I'd have gone home, and the election would be over," Bivens said.

White was sworn in during a special ceremony Thursday. He claims the early ceremony is because he'll be out of town next week, when all other candidates are sworn-in, but some of Bivens supporters are still calling foul.

No date has been set for the lawsuit to go to court.

White is set to take over as sheriff September 1.

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