Lawless is now Lawrence County sheriff

Published 5:38 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It was an evening of hugs and hearty handshakes as Republican Jeff Lawless pulled 67 percent of the vote to become Lawrence County’s new sheriff.

Lawless, currently the county’s chief deputy, played host to a party of supporters and friends at the Ironton Elks Tuesday evening. As more and more precincts reported in, the enthusiasm of the guests increased in direct proportion as Lawless was surrounded by well wishers.

Lawless had faced Chesapeake police chief and local businessman Russell Bennett who had run on the Independent ticket. Bennett brought in 8,456 votes or approximately 33 percent of the tally.

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Lawless’s campaign was based on his 22 years of experience in law enforcement starting as corrections officer in the administration of then Sheriff Dan Hieronimus. Within three years he was promoted to corporal with the responsibility of supervising the night shift. Before taking his current post, Lawless also served on the SWAT team of the Atomic Plant in Piketon.

He left the sheriff’s office and joined the SWAT team of the Atomic Plant in Piketon, the only plant in the country which then made and still stores bomb-grade uranium. He returned to the sheriff’s office with the election of Sheriff Tim Sexton, first as a jail administrator, then added the promotion of chief deputy to his resume.

“I am elated,” Lawless said as he broke away periodically to thank supporters. “It was a hard campaign. This county is huge. I got to meet a lot of good people who opened up their homes and showed me support and love. I appreciate that they have the confidence in me.”

It was the second time that Bennett, who grew up in Proctorville, sought the sheriff’s post. He campaigned on his 26 years as a law enforcement officer for the village of Chesapeake, 16 of those as the village chief. Bennett is also a retiree from Ashland Inc. where he managed six Superamerica convenience stores.

A call made to Bennett’s cell phone was not returned by press time.