GREAT FALLS -- A recently elected Great Falls Town Councilman has quit his job with the Chester County Sheriff's Office because the state constitution says he can't hold two public offices at the same time, Sheriff Robby Benson said.
Darryl Washington's last official day with the sheriff's office was June 27. He spent nearly four years with the agency, and his most recent job was as a school resource officer at Great Falls High School.
Holding two public offices is banned by the state constitution. The state attorney general's office warned Washington of the conflict before he was elected in April.
But after he received more votes than any other candidate in the race, Washington said he would challenge the rule in court.
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Washington was not available for comment this week. He left a message for The Herald saying he was fighting wildfires in California with the N.C. Air National Guard and wouldn't be able to comment until he returns home next week.
The constitution does not prevent a public employee, such as a firefighter or a schoolteacher, from holding a public office.
To be considered a dual officeholder, a person must hold two public offices involving "an exercise of some portion of the sovereign power of the state," the state constitution says. Those positions include law enforcement officers and judges.
Washington's initial quest also went against several previous opinions from the attorney general's office, including a 1995 opinion in which the attorney general ruled a Newberry County Sheriff's deputy could not also serve as a Newberry City Council member.
Benson said he expected Washington would eventually resign because of the law. He said he'd discussed the matter with Washington and the former deputy knew his options.
"He's a very likable person," Benson said. "I hate to see him leave."
Great Falls Mayor H.C. "Speedy" Starnes said he hasn't discussed the employment issue with Washington.
"As far as I'm concerned, when he took the oath of office down here, then he was on council," Starnes said. "He told me all along he was gonna serve (on the council). So that's why I took him at his word."