JONESBORO — As of Tuesday, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said he had received more than 100 texts, phone calls and emails regarding Craighead County Circuit Clerk Candace Edward’s termination of Eastern District Deputy Clerk Sue Gurley.
“Most of those were in favor of Sue Gurley,” Day said, noting he only had one call in favor of Edwards. “It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around how an elected official can be fired by another elected official.”
According to Arkansas law, Act 667 of 2003, states that there is an advisory election for the deputy sheriff and deputy clerk in the Eastern District. Section 1b of the law states the results shall be advisory to the elected sheriff and the elected circuit clerk of Craighead County.
In reading the law, Day said Edwards is technically Gurley’s superior.
“The people of the Eastern District do not agree with that and they have a different perspective,” Day said. “I see their view; she was a person who was elected by the people.”
The Sun received a copy of the letter of termination Edwards issued to Gurley dated Feb. 22.
“This is a notice to inform you that as of today, Feb. 22, your position with Craighead County, Arkansas is terminated,” Edwards wrote.
Edwards stated in the termination letter that Gurley received a policy reminder on Oct. 1 telling employees how to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and how to prevent it. Edwards said the policy reminder also specifically told employees they were required to stay home if symptomatic.
Edwards wrote that Gurley was in direct violation of the Arkansas Department of Health quarantine policy by showing up for work on Feb. 1-2 despite being in direct contact with someone who was positive for the virus.
Day said in an earlier interview the county did not have an official COVID-19 policy.
Kimberly Dale, an attorney for Craighead County, said she was unable to answer the question about a COVID-19 policy, but a policy can be in various forms and come in varying manners.
Edwards defended her decision to terminate Gurley on the grounds that she failed to follow Craighead County COVID-19 policy and also failed to comply with the Arkansas Department of Health’s guidelines to quarantine.
“I can tell you any decision I have made in my office has been fully researched,” Edwards said Thursday. “I would never make a decision without the evidence to back it up.”
Gurley filed paperwork with the county requesting a grievance hearing. Gurley wrote in her letter she was wrongly terminated by Edwards, stating first there is no COVID-19 policy.
Gurley also wrote she was at her doctor’s office on Feb. 1 for health issues, and her doctor stated he did not believe she had COVID-19.
A grievance hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday in the basement of the Craighead County Courthouse Annex, at 511 Union Street. It will be held on Zoom.
Those wishing to watch the hearing can do so by going to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83602355885?pwd=WH pnZExIOWREUHErbmZ 2RDU1elJnZz09
Meeting ID: 836 0235 5885
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)