One of the candidates running for Logan County Sheriff is disputing the account that he was offered a chance to keep his job by switching to third shift.

Stephen Stratton was terminated by Sheriff Wallace Whittaker on Tuesday, Jan. 23, after Stratton filed to run against Whittaker in the upcoming election.

The week before another deputy, Robbie Matthews, also filed to run and was reassigned to the Logan County Justice Center. Whittaker said that he gave Stratton a similar opportunity -- to keep working by going to third shift. According to Whittaker, Stratton turned down that offer, however, and he had no choice but to terminate him.

Stratton says that's not what happened, however.

"He asked me to withdraw and said I could keep my job if I did that, but there was no offer to go to third shift," Stratton said.

On Monday, Whittaker said he stands by his original statements about offering Stratton a chance to keep his job by working third shift.

"He's a liar," Whittaker said of Stratton's claim that he was not given an option of working third shift at the Sheriff's Department.

Both Whittaker and Stratton said that a third person was present for the conversation that ended with Stratton's dismissal -- Sheriff's Department Sgt. Shaun Embry.

When contacted Monday, Embry declined to comment on what was said during the meeting.

Stratton said that he has been frustrated by the story that he could have kept his job if he had only moved to third shift.

"I understand why he terminated us -- and that's not an issue," Stratton said. "He had an option to either let us keep working while we were running against him, or terminate us. And he chose to terminate. He had the right to do that. But it wasn't because he had to because of a county policy. That has been proven to be false."

Stratton also said that he wished Whittaker had not terminated Matthews, who had been working at his new position for over a week before he was let go.

"I asked him not to do it because of me," Stratton said. "I told him that I wouldn't be upset if he let Robbie keep working, but he said that what he had to do for one, he had to do for the other."

A few days later, a third deputy, Charles Dauley, filed to run for office and was terminated immediately.

Stratton, Whittaker and Dauley are all Democrats and will be running against each other -- and recently retired Russellville Police Department officer Morris Kissellbaugh, in the May primary. Matthews, the lone Republican who has filed for Sheriff, will then face off against the winner in the November general election.

Stephen Stratton