Bill Would Clarify Expunged Felonies For Sheriff Candidates

Bill Would Clarify Expunged Felonies For Sheriff Candidates

11:33am Jul 15, 2019
Supporters of former sheriff Gerald Hege gather in the Davidson County government building to hear a challenge to his candidacy in April, 2018. WFDD file photo by Paul Garber.

In a move that has close ties to a former Davidson County sheriff, a state House committee has passed a measure to bar felons from running for the office even if the conviction has been expunged. 

Gerald Hege was a popular lawman in Davidson County before an investigation into wrongdoing ended his career and saddled him with two felony convictions.

He’s twice attempted a comeback, and both tries have led to a reaction in Raleigh.

There was nothing barring a convicted felon from running for sheriff when Hege made his first attempt to get the job back in 2010. That year, after he had already lost in the primary, voters approved a change to the state constitution to keep felons from running for the seat.

But that wasn’t the end for Hege. He ran again last year, saying his felony conviction had been expunged, making him eligible to run again. In a 3-1 vote, the Davidson County elections board agreed, saying the constitution’s language didn’t address expungement.

It hardly mattered; Hege was trounced in the Republican primary, garnering only 16 percent of the vote.

House Bill 863 would disqualify felons from becoming sheriff even if their convictions had been expunged. Hege is not specifically named in the bill.

Support your
public radio station