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Hicks drops out of sheriff's race, says he'll back Graves

TRINITY — Eric Hicks, who twice ran unsuccessfully for sheriff of Randolph County and was expected to run again this year, has announced that he’s dropping out of the race and supporting former sheriff Robert Graves.

He made the announcement Sunday on Facebook Live following discussions with Graves. He also sent a message under the caption, “Placing my efforts & support behind Robert Graves!”

His message said:

“For ten years as your candidate for Randolph County Sheriff I have prided myself on being open and honest. I have long worked for positive changes in the Sheriff's Office. 
“After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to run for Sheriff in 2022. My passion for law enforcement and Randolph County remains unwavering. However, after prayerful consideration and collective discussions with my family and friends, I have come to the conclusion that the timing is not right for myself to run. 

“I feel led at this time to support a candidate who is not only what Randolph County needs in its time of despair, but also someone many of us admire and respect. He is the only candidate qualified for the job of Sheriff. 

“I feel that my passion and experiences lend a strong foundation but I feel I can make the greatest impact by lending my support and asking my supporters to back Robert A. Graves for Sheriff. 

“Graves is a proven leader who has proven his abilities in the past to get RCSO back on track and I have no doubt that he will do it again. He is the only candidate to boast such a record. 

“What Randolph County and RCSO needs is to rebuild trust in the community. We need professionalism, integrity, true transparency, and proactive law enforcement. Our current administration is lacking all of the above. We need Graves in office. 

“It has been an honor to have the support of so many amazing citizens throughout this journey. I hope and pray you will continue on the journey with me as I support Robert Graves for Sheriff.”

In an interview with Randolph Hub, Hicks said he was “at a crossroad,” with the probable race for sheriff split four ways. He said he decided to “humble myself and throw my support to Robert Graves.”

Hicks said he had talked with Graves about the idea, to determine if it would be acceptable to both the Graves family and Hicks family. They came to the decision to “combiine our efforts to do what’s best for the county,” Hicks said. “We’re open to working together with the common goal of doing what’s right.

“Robert and I are polar opposites (in personality), but we both understand what needs to be done.”

A job offer by Graves was not on the table, Hicks said, adding that it would be illegal to promise a job for supporting a campaign. Hicks said he’s happy with his own personal business.

Graves welcomes support

“He made the decision he was not going to seek the office this year,” Graves said of Hicks. “He said he believes I’m best for the job and wants to give his support to me. I respect that and welcome the support.

”I’m asking for anybody’s support and I’ll serve everybody, whether they supported us or not.”

Graves added that he would like to have the support of Hicks’ supporters. “I hope to meet with them.”

Graves said that he and Hicks have had discussions. “He knows what I stand for, to bring back professionalism to the office, strong community programs and outreach. I want to have a partnership with the people."

Graves said he had filed for sheriff the first day of filing on Dec. 6, then the next day the NC Supreme Court stopped filing because of a lawsuit over redistricting. He said it’s his understanding that his filing will stand for what is now a May 17 primary election. It’s possible, however, that the NC General Assembly will move that date into June to see what the Supreme Court decides concerning redistricting.