As disagreements continue between County Manager Merv Waldrop and Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Although Williams filed an Intent to Appeal in response to Judge Jesse Stone’s decision in January denying the Sheriff’s mandamus petition, Williams said he is willing to extend an olive branch to the county, including County Manager Merv Waldrop.
Waldrop said Tuesday that the first step to healing the relationship, that both men admit is riddled with “distrust,” is for Williams to apologize for public comments he made during the August 10 Board of Commissioners meeting. Speaking for more than an hour, Williams publicly criticized Waldrop referencing him as “clerk,” and demanding that he abide by the law and “get out of the Sheriff’s Department’s business.”
Williams said Tuesday he is willing to try to forge a relationship and partnership with Waldrop’s office.
“They need us and we need them,” he said. “The tax payers deserve for us to be able to work together.”
The Sheriff said he is willing to apologize both privately and publicly.
“That is so simple, hell yeah,” Williams said and later wrote in an email, “If ever I offend anyone, I am willing to say I am sorry.”
Williams said he is also willing to meet with Waldrop to discuss his concerns in an attempt to resolve budget issues and bring them to the board.
“This takes two men simply saying, ‘this is not about me this is not about you,’ this is about the people,” he said.
Waldrop said it’s not feasible to for the men to meet oneon one.
“All I do is carry out the will of the Board of Commissioners,” Waldrop said. “I don’t think he understands that. I think he thinks I have way more authority. They have to tell me it’s a priority before I can spend time working on something that is not their priority.”
Currently, Waldrop is working on scheduling a work session in which Williams can bring his concerns to the entire board. During that meeting Williams hopes to see a spirit of fairness and equity brought to the table, while the county hopes to see a spirit of compromise.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the meeting is not likely to take place before next month. The county has three issues currently on the forefront; an Appeal Hearing on Hope Empowerment Christian Ministries, the Work session requested by Sheriff Williams and a joint meeting with Cities to Work on the SPLOST list for November ballot. The ball is in the BOC’s court. An email to the commissioners sent by Waldrop Tuesday states, “Give us five dates and times that you can meet. Also which meeting is a higher priority for you?”
However, Waldrop pointed out that pending litigation makes it more difficult to discuss matters freely. In that regard, the Sheriff is not backing down.
“As far as litigation is concerned, the truth does not change,” he said. “Therefore, there is never a reason to be guarded when speaking it.”
Topics to be discussed include Williams’ request for the BOC to provide land that will accommodate a firing range and training facility. However, he said he is willing to work with the BOC to develop a fiveto eight year plan that provides for growth over time.