Jones wins primary for sheriff
Sheriff Alan Jones is all but certain to win re-election after easily winning the Republican primary Tuesday.
Jones defeated challenger Lance Wilson with 4,114 votes, or 58 percent, to Wilson's 2,979 votes in complete but unofficial returns. No Democrats filed in the spring, so Jones is unopposed unless someone mounts a write-in campaign.
The results will not become official until the board of elections canvasses the vote May 13.
"I feel great," Jones said after the voting. "I want to thank all the citizens who voted for me. I am honored and blessed we can continue to work for the citizens another four years and do what we've been doing for the past seven years."
Jones was appointed sheriff in February 2007 after the death of Sheriff Gary Clark. Jones was elected to a full term in 2010.
Throughout this campaign, Jones has touted the county’s crime rate, which he says dropped 4 percent from 2011 to 2012 and is now the 20th-lowest among the 100 counties in the state, and his 26 years in law enforcement.
Wilson used his previous service with the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office and his current service as a trooper with the N.C. Highway Patrol in his bid for sheriff. He also highlighted his service to God, his church and his family, and his support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
But Wilson also attacked Jones as an ineffective leader who had overseen lapses in conduct and morale. Wilson said he would hold his employees to a highter standard of conduct.
The sheriff's race resonated with voters in Caldwell County and was cited by local election officials as one likely reason that more people turned out during the early voting period than did four years ago, when early voting lasted several days longer.
Kim Johnson, who voted Tuesday at Hibriten High School, said the sheriff's race was most visible of the local elections. To her, the right candidate was the one who refrained from mud-slinging, she said.
"I just want a good man to do the job," she said.
Bobby Robbins, who also cast his ballot at Hibriten High, said he watched the sheriff's race most closely. To him, the biggest issue was accountability and credibility of the sheriff's office, saying the issues that the office has struggled with in recent years were not handled properly.