Perry now to retire in March
By William F. West
Monday, January 15, 2018
CAMDEN – Camden County's sheriff is moving up his retirement date by more than nine months.
Sheriff Tony Perry announced in 2016 that he would not seek re-election but instead step down when his current four-term ends this December. Last week, however, Perry advised the Camden Board of Commissioners he now plans to step aside on March 1.
“It's kind of a bittersweet moment for my family and I,” Perry said. “It's just time for me to leave and get out.”
Perry said he asked commissioners to consider appointing the Camden Sheriff’s Office’s No. 2 official, Chief Deputy Rodney Meads, as interim sheriff when his retirement takes effect.
Perry, a Democrat, had previously endorsed Meads to replace him when the sheriff announced his intention not to seek re-election in August 2016. Meads has already said he plans to seek the Republican nomination for sheriff in the May primary.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Clayton Riggs said last week that Meads will take over management of the Camden Sheriff’s Department immediately upon Perry's retirement. Riggs declined to say, however, whether commissioners would follow Perry’s suggestion and appoint Meads interim sheriff to complete the remainder of Perry’s term through December.
Riggs said commissioners will have 30 days from the day of Perry's departure to decide who they’ll name interim sheriff. Because they want the right person in the job, Riggs said his board plans to study the matter before reaching a decision.
As sheriff, Perry is paid $62,745 a year, according to county finance officials. Meads is currently paid $54,202 annually.
Under state rules, Perry will soon be eligible for public employee retirement benefits. State and local government employees are eligible for full retirement benefits when they either reach age 55 or 30 years of service in local or state government. Perry, who has been sheriff since 2001, will turn 55 next month.
Perry said one reason he’s leaving early is because he wants to spend more quality time with his family. His wife of 24 years, Linda, 55, is retired from the Camden Department of Social Services.
Being retired will also allow him and his wife to visit their son, Cameron, a 23-year-old ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard. Cameron is currently in Pensacola, Florida, where he’s pursuing U.S. Navy flight training. Cameron wants to be a helicopter pilot for the Coast Guard.
Perry also said he needs time to complete his associate's degree from College of The Albemarle. He said he originally planned to seek a criminal justice degree, but now will be seeking a degree in business management.
Asked about his future plans, Perry said he’s currently enrolled in a program to become a United Methodist minister. The program is considered a first step in the process toward becoming a member of the United Methodist clergy and being assigned to a United Methodist church.
“Yes, I am aspiring to be one (a minister), but I'm not sure where that's going to go right now,” Perry said.
Perry, who is a Perquimans County native, said he has been a born-again Christian since he was 9. He’s currently a member of Camden United Methodist Church.
Asked where he would be interested in preaching, he said, “I'll go wherever God calls me. I feel like I have a lot to offer.”