Clayton sheriff candidates trade accusations

The candidates' dislike for each other was palpable.

A member of the panel asked incumbent Sheriff Kem Kimbrough and former Sheriff Victor Hill what they liked about each other.

"He can grin and lie at the same time," said Hill, who lost to Kimbrough four years ago.

"Absolutely nothing," Kimbrough said.

Out of a field of eight candidates, Kimbrough and Hill were the top vote-getters in the July 31 Democratic primary, with 42.4 percent and 37.5 percent of the vote respectively. The winner of the runoff will be sheriff because there is no Republican candidate.

The two have been unrelenting in their attacks on each other, and that continued at the taping of the debate, which will be broadcast at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WPBA/Channel 30.

Most of the questions to Hill concerned his indictment by a Clayton County grand jury in January on 37 charges he used his four years in office to enrich himself, including racketeering. No trial date has been set in the case.

Hill called the charges "ridiculous and flimsy" and said Kimbrough instigated the criminal case only because Hill announced he was running for sheriff.

Kimbrough said he ordered an investigation and his office forwarded documents requested by a special grand jury. And, Kimbrough said, he testified truthfully before the grand jury. But "everything was under the control of the district attorney ... and outside prosecutor," he said.

Hill repeatedly accused Kimbrough of having improper personal relationships with women on his staff.

"I've never engaged in those activities," said Kimbrough, who is married and has two sons. "You're the only one making those allegations."

Both said they would be the one to improve the county's reputation.

Hill said he would accomplish that by cutting crime. The sheriff's role in Clayton traditionally has been more focused on running the jail, courthouse security and serving warrants.

Kimbrough said he would beef up initiatives involving the public.

"This is a pivotal time in our history," he said. "It's time to end the chaos."

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