WEST JEFFERSON-Bucky Absher is a popular man.
Don’t believe that assessment?
Take his recent retirement celebration as case and point.
The gathering for his grand farewell grew so large that organizers were forced to relocate his retirement party to the West Jefferson First Baptist Church Tuesday evening.
His celebration occurred at the tail end of a 34-year career in law enforcement that came to an abrupt end last week when he announced his retirement following the controversial decision by county commissioners to snub his bid for sheriff in favor of Terry Buchanan.
Absher had served as a major deputy at the Ashe County Sheriff’s office for years.
Packed into a small meeting room in the basement of the church, members of the local democratic party gathered around the man of the hour to reflect upon Absher’s storied career.
Recently retired sheriff James Williams was the first man to the podium to share his thoughts on Absher’s career.
“I never dreamed a couple weeks ago I would be speaking at Bucky’s retirement,” said Williams. “We go back a long, long ways. It’s pretty rare when you line up in a profession that you love going to everyday and you feel like you are making a difference in the world. I think it’s even more rare when you find someone with a kindred spirit that you connect with that you have a working relationship with for so many years. I can’t say enough of the caliber of a man he’s been.”
On the other hand, Williams said he can’t speak on the caliber of the commissioners who voted against his succession plan last week that would’ve placed Absher in the sheriff’s seat. Many thought Absher would be a top candidate for the job because he had been at the sheriff’s office for so many years. Instead, commissioners chose Buchanan.
“Karma will come around and things will be put right,” said Williams in regards to the 2018 election when the sheriff’s race reopens.
Throughout the ceremony, other speakers in attendance spoke about the “miscarriage of justice” that was carried out by county commissioners in selecting Buchanan over Absher.
Roy Carter called the decision “shameful partisanship by county commissioners.” He also said that instead of focusing on “draining the swamp in Washington,” Democratic faithful should also look into “draining the swamp in Jefferson” during the 2018 midterm election.
Absher also said the controversial 3-2 decision by commissioners has “turned the county upside down.
“The decision was not only a slap in my face, but it was a slap in your face,” said Absher to the crowd that gathered before him. “Last week, I had a lady tell me that this goes beyond politics. This is just plain dirty.”
Absher also personally thanked commissioners William Sands and Larry Rhodes for voting for his appointment for the office of sheriff. Sands said he was at a lost as to why his fellow commissioners Jeff Rose, Gary Roark and Paula Perry would chose Buchanan over Absher.
In closing, Absher thanked everyone for their support.
“I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received,” said Absher on the large crowd that gathered.