Candidate filing in Onslow County closed at 12:00 p.m. today, with no new candidates for the Sheriff’s seat. Potential candidates Robin Knapp and Paul Buchanon did not make a showing at the Board of Elections, leaving the battle to incumbent Hans Miller, former Chief Deputy Boyd Brown, and latecomer Walter J. Scott, the former spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
John Yopp has also washed out. He filed campaign finance paperwork in January and announced his candidacy, but never followed through with the final paperwork. The Yopp campaign never got off the ground and seems to have fizzled just as quickly as it started.
The Libertarian and Democratic parties remain empty.
Incumbent Hans Miller has faced heavy criticism over his leadership, with one source assessing him, “weaker than a packet of Kool-aid in the New River”, and many others calling for his resignation.
He’s been publicly lambasted for sweeping the Will Clifton scandal under the rug and lack of transparency about the nature of Clifton’s departure from the OCSO: claiming it was unrelated to reports of the former School Resource Officer raping a high school student. These same allegations appear to have been under an internal investigation by Miller’s Office at the time of the resignation. Of the same, Miller publicly claimed this amounted to “personal reasons” for the former deputy to tender his resignation. Flip-flopping weeks later he stated that he told the deputy to resign or be fired, but not over the criminal allegations, just what he calls a “difference in values” that had come to his attention.
The court had also intervened with Clifton by issuing multiple protective orders as a result of Clifton’s violence and apparent threats and ordered him to stay away from several minor children, having refused to do so under direction from the Sheriff’s Office during Miller’s internal investigation. This was done at the request of another Onslow Deputy, David Pickett, who was acting as a Guardian Ad Litem for a minor child.
Later it was discovered that a second, much younger victim had come forward, and Clifton faced an additional investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.
More recently, Miller has been under fire for his apparent lack of aggressiveness in seeking charges against Kristy Kay Hunter, mom of slain tot, Mariah woods.Miller has also launched vicious attacks on competitor Boyd Brown, challenging his integrity and repeatedly calling him a thief.
Boyd Brown has increased his activity as of late, with his billboard campaign ads appearing across the county. Some streets in Onslow County are lined end-to-end with his green and yellow campaign signs, without a trace of support for Miller. Despite the attacks on his credibility, Brown has maintained a steady hand and tackled the issues head-on, offering detailed responses to Miller’s mudslinging on his Facebook page. The only one seeming to challenge Brown’s honesty is Miller, but Brown shows no sign of giving way to these dirty campaign tactics or lowering himself to Miller’s level.
A third candidate, Walter J. Scott, launched his campaign Facebook earlier this week, “Elect Walter Scott for Sheriff”, and his website, “electwalterjscott.com”.Scott has taken advantage of the platform to make a multitude of posts. He’s outlined on his page his visions, plans, and goals if elected to the Sheriff’s position, and provided additional details about his background and experience; including his service as a Patrol Commander at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office and service on the Drug Task Force and Dive Team.
Many people in Onslow County are looking for a change this election cycle, asking for a new Sheriff that stands up for victims instead of “covering the six” of his deputies and spending every waking moment promoting himself.
Time will tell how the candidates fair at the primary, but you’ll hear it right here first, at News In Onslow!