Former Loudon County Sheriff Joe Sims is back on a ballot for
public office next month, despite a criminal record that
previously prevented him from running.
Sims, who was sheriff from 1978 to 1990, was convicted in 1996
of financing an illegal gambling machine business in Loudon
County. During the sentencing Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven
Cook said Sims also accepted bribes while sheriff from those
running the video gambling machine operation.
He was sentenced to six months in Midway Rehabilitation Center.
Sims attempted to run for mayor of Lenoir City in 2008, but was
disqualified by the election commission because of his felony
conviction. Later in 2008 he petitioned the court to have his
Susan Harrison, Loudon County administrator of elections, said
Sims is now qualified to hold a public office. "He had his
rights restored," she said.
An order to restore rights of citizenship to Sims
was filed and entered on Dec. 15, 2008, and signed by Circuit
Court Judge Eugene Eblen.
The judge said it is common for convicted felons to have their
rights restored, but wouldn't comment on Sims' case
specifically. "I don't comment on any cases," Eblen said.
The order states, "The full rights of citizenship are, hereby,
restored to Petitioner, Joseph L. Sims and who is vested with
all rights, privileges, and entitlement of citizenship as
guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and the
Constitution of the State of Tennessee."
The order does not allow Sims to possess a firearm or
ammunition, but it does open the door for him to seek the
mayor's seat. "The Court finds that any disqualification ...
which prohibits the Petitioner from holding public office is
removed by entry of this Order," it states.
Early voting for the Nov. 2 election begins Oct. 13 with polls
at Roane State Community College in Lenoir City and the Loudon
County Office Building in Loudon.