Sexton wins sheriff race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Lawrence County voters have chosen a new leader for their sheriff’s department.

Wednesday, November 08, 2000

Lawrence County voters have chosen a new leader for their sheriff’s department.

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More than 58 percent of the 24,805 registered voters who turned out for the General Election Tuesday voted for Republican challenger Tim Sexton over Democratic incumbent Roy Smith.

Sexton voters carried the day, with 13,914 residents punching ballots for the chief investigator for the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office.

Smith captured 9,770 votes.

"I’m overwhelmed that the voters have placed their confidence in me," Tim Sexton said. "I’ll be a full-time sheriff for the people of Lawrence County."

He said many issues were involved in the race for the sheriff’s office.

"I think the voters looked at those (issues) and that’s why they gave me a vote of confidence in this election," he said. "We ran a very hard campaign."

Sexton said workers addressed many issues ranging from "unsolved crimes to officers working traffic" in the county while working the campaign trail. Those issues grabbed the attention of voters, he said.

The Sexton campaign also targeted personnel issues, suggesting Smith’s employment of his son-in-law was inappropriate.

Smith’s campaign strategy, on the other hand, centered on his accomplishments ranging from an increase in manpower and operating budgets to implementing alcohol-free programs for teenagers.

Sexton said there is a lesson to be learned.

"I only lost by 270 votes the last time," he said. "You learn a lot the first time you run in a political race. The next time you run, you correct those mistakes. (Roy) Smith had two terms, and after those two terms, the people should expect more. I think it’s time for change. We put it out there and the people listened."

Sheriff Roy Smith said the final count came as a disappointment.

"I’m a little disappointed with the outcome of the election," Smith said. "The vote I saw here tonight in no way reflects what the people have been saying."

He said he felt his years of service in law enforcement would become a vital key to winning the election.

"I’ve served the people of Lawrence County for 33 years – 25 years with the state patrol and eight years as their sheriff – with honesty, integrity and courteously," he said. "But, apparently, that’s not what the people of Lawrence County want."

Smith said he’s not sure what went wrong.

"I can only speculate that all the media attention he was able to put out persuaded the voters," Smith said. "If you can put enough (information) out, voters will come to believe most anything after a while. There’s an old saying that if you’ve got enough money, you can buy an election and I know there was a lot of money poured behind this one."

Sexton said the sheriff should be commended for his years of service.

"I congratulate the sheriff for his two terms," he said. "Political campaigns involve a lot of time and effort and he is to be commended."