Yon says no threat intended

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
The Rowan County GOP Executive Committee’s choice for sheriff has apologized for an e-mail that some took as threatening party officeholders.
Tony Yon, a Davidson County deputy sheriff who wants to fill the job vacated by retired Sheriff George Wilhelm, sent county officials an e-mail Saturday saying he never intended to threaten commissioners if they didn’t support him.
The GOP Executive Committee selected Yon on Dec. 5 from among five candidates.
Commissioners, who have the authority to fill the vacancy, have said they plan to take no action before January, and that they may not appoint someone to the post then. Under state law, Chief Deputy Kevin Auten essentially became acting sheriff when Wilhelm retired.
In his first e-mail, sent Dec. 6, Yon wrote Republican Party members “don’t need our Commissioner’s disassociating themselves from our Party at this time. They must also remember that we have three Republican Commissioner’s seat open this election and their choice to ignore you will result in their defeat.”
In the latest e-mail, sent out shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, Yon wrote that the last sentence in that passage was taken out of context by the Salisbury Post.
Yon said the e-mail in its entirety was “an impassioned plea against disassociating yourselves from our party, it was by no means meant as a threat to you individually or collectively.”
Yon continued: “I humbly apologize for any distress this may have caused.”
Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and one of four Republicans on the board, said Tuesday he appreciated the apology.
Ford said he never took the Dec. 6 e-mail from Yon as a threat. “I’m not one of the commissioners who are running,” he added.
Ford said he believes Yon may have sent the e-mail out of frustration.
“He’s always trying to push party unity,” Ford said. “He got a little frustrated and went a little too far.”
One of the Republican commissioners who is running in the upcoming election said Tuesday he doesn’t think the Dec. 6 e-mail “came across like it was intended.”
Mitchell said he thinks Yon was trying to advise Republicans that a lack of party unity would hurt them.
Mitchell agreed with Ford that commissioners plan to take their time in deciding who to appoint sheriff or whether to appoint anyone.
“I don’t think we are in any rush to make a decision,” Mitchell said. “We need to consider our options.”
n Read the text of Tony Yon’s e-mails to commissioners and GOP Executive Committee, 2A.