Bo was the sheriff in Cherokee County following the lengthy term of Sheriff Newt Adams who recently passed away.
It is the opinion of this writer that Bo was a really good sheriff. It is also my opinion that Bo was not the seasoned politician. It’s not that he didn’t have the capability to be a politician; he just chose not to be one.
Bo was a lawman. And he was a lawman who did what it took to enforce the laws while giving little if any consideration for the political repercussions.
Bo was and is a man who speaks his mind, whether or not the receiver of his opinion liked what he had to say.
I never had the opportunity to work for Bo, but from speaking to many that did, there was never a dull moment or a moment where an employee wondered where they stood within the organization.
Bo simply made it clear to all what he was thinking.
This straight forward attitude very likely cost Bo an election. From my personal conversations with him, as he is a family friend, I think he cared about being re-elected but not enough to change who he is.
I have asked myself several times if he wouldn’t have been better off toning it down some. I have even asked him that same question.
But there was at least one thing more important to Bo than being elected. And that was not changing who he is to make it happen.
Some people may call him stubborn and crazy for not trying to play the game a little better. Some may think he should have spoken softer and tried a little harder to pacify his employees.
But that just isn’t who he is. Bo is a man with a brave heart. He’s the real deal. He lost an election and his job as sheriff.
But one thing he didn’t lose was who he is. He never compromised his identity although it cost him his political position.
There is a lot to be said for that. How many of us believe so much in our personal values that we are willing to walk away from our jobs for them? I would guess to say very few. But Bo had the courage to do just that.
Don’t get me wrong. There are other politicians who have core values. But not many are willing to buck the political system like he did.
The 2012 primary was one of the most controversial I have seen in my lifetime. Accusations of wrongdoing were at the center of almost every election.
And I am a firm believer that if an elected official does wrong, it should be exposed.
But I am also of the opinion that those who spread false rumors and lies against elected officials or political challengers should be held accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, an elected official has less of a challenge to false accusations than does the ordinary citizen.
Bo was the recipient of many accusations during his last election. He handled it in classic Bo fashion. He admitted to things he did wrong.
But he also gave his accusers an earful for anything they said that was fabricated. And he didn’t mince his words.
I have heard many say that Bo could have won the election he lost if he would have simply jumped on the political bandwagon.
But he chose to remain true to himself and he lost. But did he really lose?
I am going to go out on a limb and say that he won in the end. He may have no longer been the sheriff, but he stayed true to himself and who he is without fear.
Bo Ballard was a good sheriff if not better than good. But more importantly, he was a man who will tell you what he thinks without pulling punches. And he is that way with everyone regardless of someone’s position or political clout.
There may never again be an elected official in Cherokee County with the straightforwardness of Bo Ballard.
This column is in no way negative toward our current elected officials. It’s only meant to be a reminder to us all that holding on to who we are is far more important than gaining political stature.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.