QUESTION: Does Burlington’s retiring police chief Jeff Smythe intend to run for Alamance County’s sheriff in 2022?
ANSWER: When Jeff Smythe first announced his retirement February, his calculations about the next phase of his life hadn’t gone much further than his intention to spend his initial weeks of post-vocational freedom hunkered down at his family beach house along the Carolina coast.
Since then, Burlington’s outgoing police chief seems to have given some additional thought to what he’ll do with himself once he officially hangs up his gun belt on June 1. Smythe nevertheless acknowledged that he’s still “keeping [his] options open” when he recently spoke with The Alamance News about his post-retirement plans – and specifically the chance that he may launch a campaign to become Alamance County’s next sheriff.
In a phone interview with the newspaper on Thursday, Smythe revealed, among other things, that he was in the process of purchasing a “fixer-upper home” in Burlington – which seems to suggest an intention to remain in the area long-term. He added that his schedule when he retires will give him “lots of flexibility” to do some consulting work or even to serve as the interim chief at another department.
Smythe was more noncommittal, however, about the possibility that he’ll use his new-found free time to seek an elected office – and, specifically, the position of Alamance County’s sheriff, which is scheduled to appear on the ballot in 2022.
When asked directly about a potential bid for the sheriff’s seat, Smythe described the prospect as a “complex equation.” He acknowledged that he has been an unaffiliated voter ever since he came to North Carolina in 2014, and he added that he “hasn’t drilled down that deeply” into which party he’d join if he decides to take a stab at electoral politics.