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Danny Phillips Nominated to Serve as Avery County’s Interim Sheriff

By Tim Gardner

Former Avery County Deputy and Chief Detective Danny Phillips has been nominated and approved by a vote to serve as the county’s new Interim Sheriff by the Avery County GOP (Republican) Executive Committee, along with GOP representatives of the 19 county precincts.

The need for an Interim Sheriff became necessary when long-time Sheriff Kevin Frye announced his resignation from the post, effective January 31, 2022.

Phillips, who has 30 years and four months of law enforcement experience, has lived in Avery County most of his life. He retired in 2018 after having served in various posts, which besides his positions with the Avery Sheriff’s Department includes Town of Newland Police Chief and six years working for the Wake County, NC Sheriff’s Department.

He is a son of former Avery County Sheriff, the late Clinton Phillips.

“I’m deeply honored that Avery County’s GOP Executive Committee and the precinct representatives chose me to be Interim Sheriff.  I will work very hard and do the best job I can for the county,” Phillips stated.

Danny Phillips

The Republican Party has the most registered voters in Avery, making it the county’s majority political party and the May 3 election a Republican primary, and as a result local GOP officials are responsible for selecting an Interim Sheriff to recommend to the Avery Board of Commissioners. Under North Carolina law, the county commissioners must confirm such a nomination and then a court judge has to swear in the person confirmed as Interim Sheriff before the appointment can become official. 

The commissioners will meet about Phillips’ nomination on January 28 at the Avery County Court House, according to Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.

The commissioners can vote to confirm or reject the nomination either by vote or consensus.  Barrier, Jr. said the commissioners are likely to confirm Phillips as Interim Sheriff as it’s basically a formality.

Danny Phillips’ brother, Tim, serves on the Avery Board of Commissioners.

Avery Republican Party and Executive Committee Chairperson Erin Buchanan said with the pending election this year for the county’s next sheriff, those who made the selection of Phillips as Interim Sheriff considered any individual running for the office within the parameters of the interim process.

“Everyone involved took the vote very seriously because of the implications to the county’s citizens, Sheriff’s Department employees and candidates running in the upcoming election,” Buchanan declared.

Frye had offered his recommendation of current Chief Deputy Lee Buchanan to be Interim Sheriff before the GOP (Republican) Executive Committee and precinct representatives nominated Phillips.  

Lee Buchanan has filed as a candidate for Sheriff in 2022.

The GOP Chairperson added that she expected other nominations for Interim Sheriff, but Phillips was the lone nominee from the Executive Committee members and precinct representatives.

Erin Buchanan also noted that executive committee members and precinct representatives were given a 10-day written notice about the nomination process and the date of such, a list of voters and a draft of the rules for selecting a new Interim Sheriff.  Each of Avery’s 19 voting precincts has a chairperson and nominations did not require a second. 

Executive committee members and precinct representatives also were made aware of Frye’s recommendation of Lee Buchanan for Interim Sheriff, according to the Executive Committee chairperson.

Phillips added that he has no intentions to file to run for Sheriff in the Avery County Primary Election. He could serve as Interim Sheriff until December 2022, depending on if any Democrats or Write-In candidates file to run for Sheriff in November’s General Election.

Candidate filing for North Carolina’s 2022 primary elections, as well as rescheduled municipal elections, will resume at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 24, and end at 12:00 noon on Friday, March 4, the State Board of Elections has announced. 

The North Carolina Supreme Court had suspended filing for all election offices and moved the March 8 primary to May 17 due to gerrymandering lawsuits that could lead to redrawn districts that gives the Democrat or Republican Party a huge, and perhaps unfair, advantage in the election process. The State Supreme Court is expected to make a final ruling before March concerning those lawsuits.