MT. JULIET - Though he planned to run for Wilson County sheriff in 2014, news of Sheriff Terry Ashe's retirement effective Sept. 30 has accelerated James Hambrick's quest to be his successor.
Longtime West Wilson resident and Mt. Juliet Police Department Deputy Chief James Hambrick said Wednesday he would like to be the county's next sheriff and is taking steps to ask the Wilson County Commission to consider him as Ashe's successor until 2014 when he will officially run for the position Ashe has held for 30 years.
"I want to be Wilson County sheriff in general because of the love I have for this county and the people of Wilson County," said Hambrick, 50, who has been with Mt. Juliet police for 17 years. "I want to foster even better relationships and try to build on what's already in place."
Ashe announced his retirement on Tuesday and said he is going to take a position as executive director of the Tennessee Sheriff's Association, headquartered in Lebanon. Asssistant Chief Robert Bryan will be interim sheriff until the commission officially appoints a person to hold the sheriff's position until the post is up for election in 2014.
Hambrick hopes to be chosen and had earlier told Ashe, whom he's known for years, that he planned to run for sheriff in 2014.
"I highly respect Sheriff Ashe and told him I planned to run for the office in the next election, I told him out of respect," said Hambrick.
He said Ashe wished him well and their longtime friendship was "reaffirmed."
Hambrick's close friend, Melani Stephens, said she was excited Hambrick has an opportunity to now serve Wilson County earlier than planned.
"When we heard that Sheriff Ashe was stepping down, we were grateful an opportunity opened up for James to serve sooner," said Stephens.
Stephens said Hambrick's phone rang of the hook when Ashe made his announcement Tuesday, with calls from people who wanted him to serve in the capacity as sheriff.
"The reason so many people want James for the position is because he is straighforward and the same behind the pulpit as he is watching the Super Bowl or serving as deputy chief," said Stephens.
Hambrick is a preacher at Grace Fellowship Church and holds a doctorate degree. He's also an author and recently had his book, "Holiness in an Unholy Society," published with plans to author more books.
In his 17 year tenure at the MJPD, Hambrick first served as a dispatcher and then patrol officer and was named deputy chief seven years ago. He's served as interim chief twice.
Stephens said Hambrick has a sterling reputation and that with Hambrick, he will be fair, no matter who you are.
"He will always do what's right," she noted. "His nays are nays and his yeas are yeas. You always know where he stands."
Hambrick said he is excited about the possibility of expanding his service to his community.
"The three things I stand on are honesty, integrity and accountability," he said. "Those are three things the citizens, and county employees, can count on from me."
He said if he got the opportunity to serve as sheriff his main focus would be the protection of the citizens.
"I realize the responsibility," he said. "Of the patrols and overseeing the jail and everything that comes with this respected position."
The county commission is expected to make an appointment Oct. 15.
Mt. Juliet News Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by email at email@example.com.