Con­victed ex-North Carolina sher­iff can run for old job

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS -

A former sher­iff who gained fame for paint­ing his jail cells pink and host­ing a ca­ble tele­vi­sion show be­fore he pleaded guilty to felony ob­struc­tion charges can run for his old of­fice, a North Carolina elec­tions board says.

The David­son County Board of Elec­tions voted 3-1 on Tues­day to grant Gerald Hege per­mis­sion to run for sher­iff.

Hege pleaded guilty in 2004 af­ter author­i­ties ac­cused him of racial pro­fil­ing, tak­ing county money and driv­ing his car at high speeds when there was no ap­par­ent emer­gency.

Hege had been in­el­i­gi­ble to run, but a law that went into ef­fect last De­cem­ber re­duced from 15 to 10 years the time those con­victed of non­vi­o­lent felonies must wait to re­quest to have the crimes wiped from their records.

“I’ve been fight­ing for this for 14 years,” Hege said. “I’m just go­ing to go cam­paign.”

Hege said he plans to run a “mil­i­tary” of­fice again if he’s elected. Last month, An­gela An­der­son filed a chal­lenge to Hege’s can­di­dacy, say­ing his ex­punge­ment doesn’t make him qual­i­fied to run for sher­iff, ac­cord­ing to the 2010 con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that states a con­victed felon can­not run for sher­iff “whether or not that per­son has been re­stored to the rights of cit­i­zen­ship in the man­ner pre­scribed by law.”

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