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Black History Month: Sharon Hovis wants her job to have meaning

EAST SPENCER — In 2015, when Sharon Hovis was hired as East Spencer’s police chief, she became the first female police chief in Rowan County. Two years later, Hovis became the first African-American to serve on the Spencer town board and the first to serve as mayor pro tem.

She is a 15-year veteran of the Army and Army National Guard and has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years. In the military, Hovis started out as a cook, eventually moving into work as a generator operator. She eventually became a drill sergeant.

The Salisbury native was raised by her father, who was also in the Army and worked as a truck driver, and her mother, a homemaker. Hovis joined the military at age 17 at the same time as her sister.

Her family built houses and, along the way, Hovis learned to build and repair homes. She owned a few rental properties herself.

She enjoys riding motorcycles and baking. She also attended culinary school. She has a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from Livingstone College.

As a deputy with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Hovis served as a patrol officer, a bailiff in the courthouse, a school resource officer, and a sergeant over the civil division. She also served part of her law enforcement career as an officer with Piedmont Correctional Institution, locally known as the High Rise. She was a police officer for Livingstone College before becoming chief of the East Spencer Police Department.

She teaches basic law enforcement classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Davidson County Community College. She previously was a substitute teacher at Knox Middle, Corriher-Lipe Middle, Isenberg Elementary and North Rowan Middle schools.

Hovis recently spoke to the Salisbury Post about Black History Month.

Salisbury Post: When you think about black history, who inspires you and why?

Hovis: Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Post: How do you live out their ideals?

Hovis: The Obamas, I love their mindset (and) the foundation they’ve set for so many. They have used the past to make us push harder for the future. They helped set a bar. Negativity and looking to the past hold you back.

Post: What legacy do you hope to leave?

Hovis: I’m just trying to leave things better than I got it.

Hovis lives by the quote that says to live your life every day so that when someone speaks bad of you, no one would believe it.

Although she still comes across racial bias and discrimination, Hovis said she doesn’t focus on the negative.

“There is more to do, but if I focused on the negative, I wouldn’t be able to move forward.”

She said she didn’t know that she’d broken barriers and just wants her job to have meaning. As to serving on the Spencer town board, Hovis said she is “up there to be a voice for the community.”

“I felt that I needed to do it,” she said of running for office.

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