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Wooten sworn in as Pasquotank sheriff

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Superior Court Judge J. Carlton Cole (background) administers the oath of office to new Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten in Courtroom A of the Pasquotank County Courthouse, Monday evening. Holding the Bible is Wooten's wife, Brandy Wooten.

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Pasquotank Sheriff Deputies Sworn-in
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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Pasquotank Sheriff-elect Tommy Wooten lost the word “elect” from his title Monday, becoming the first new sheriff in Pasquotank in more than two decades.

“Thank y’all so much, I can’t wait to get to work,” Wooten said moments after taking his oath of office in Courtroom A at the Pasquotank County Courthouse.

Sheriff’s deputies, county commissioners, friends and family, and other supporters joined Wooten for the ceremony, offering him cheers and a standing ovation. He takes over for Randy Cartwright, who is retiring after 24 years as Pasquotank’s top lawman.

Cartwright, who did not seek re-election, also was on hand for Monday’s ceremony to cheer on Wooten, who formerly worked as a sergeant for the Sheriff’s Office before winning the Nov. 6 election to become the new sheriff.

Wooten, the county’s first Republican sheriff in modern times, defeated Democrat Eddie Graham, a sergeant with the Elizabeth City Police Department, for the right to succeed Cartwright. As sheriff, he will be paid $81,115 annually, less than the $87,394 Cartwright was being paid.

Superior Court Judge J.C. Cole administered the oath of office to Wooten, receiving Wooten’s oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions, to faithfully discharge his duties, and to enforce the law without seeking wrongful personal gain. Cole offered Wooten his support too, commenting he had known him a long time and knew he would do a great job.

In a humorous moment, Cole also jabbed Wooten for not speaking up enough when starting his oath of office — “you can do better than that,” Cole said — drawing audience chuckles when Wooten made a point to say his name loudly and deliberately.

In brief remarks to the audience, Wooten thanked his supporters and the community for helping elect him sheriff. 

“Boy, does it take a village,” Wooten said.

He also told his deputies and the audience, “To make this office look good is going to take all of y’all.”

In an interview just prior to his swearing-in, Wooten said his immediate first steps as sheriff will be to sit down, one-on-one, with all the department’s employees, and consider how to make personnel work most efficiently. Though he may reassign some employees, Wooten said he doesn’t intend to let anyone go; he said he has high confidence in department staff and their ability to build on Cartwright’s work.

Throughout the campaign, Wooten has said his priorities as sheriff will include strengthening partnerships between the department and the community, fighting opioid abuse, and making schools safer.

Wooten also said that his chief deputy will be Sgt. Daniel Fogg, an investigator with the department. Fogg will replace current Chief Deputy Doug Hooper after he retires next year, Wooten said.

Fogg said Monday he’s been in law enforcement since 1994, and has spent about the last decade working at the department.

During Monday’s meeting, Cole also administered the oath of office en masse to all sheriff’s deputies.

Earlier on Monday, four members of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education were also sworn in for new four-year terms. Those sworn in included returning board members Virginia Houston, Pam Pureza and Sharon Warden. Also sworn in Monday was George Archuleta, who was elected to the school board for the first time last month.

In a split vote, members voted 4-3 to give Warden another term as chairwoman.

Buck Jolly nominated Denauvo Robinson to be the new chairman, but only Jolly and Archuleta joined Robinson in voting for his election. Voting for Warden to remain chairwoman were Houston, Pureza, Warden and Shelia H. Williams.

Jolly said after the meeting that he nominated Robinson because “I just thought it was time for a change” and “a little competition is always good.” He said the nomination was not a reflection on Warden’s leadership.

Pasquotank County commissioners were also sworn in Monday night.

Staff Writer Reggie Ponder contributed to this story.

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