ALEDO — Democrat David Staley and Republican George Howard will square off in the Nov. 4 general election for the Mercer County sheriff's job.
The two were winners in Tuesday's primary election, which featured five candidates — three Democrats and two Republicans.
Mr. Staley, a Mercer County sheriff's deputy, received 556 votes to get the Democratic nomination. Chief deputy Jeff Dale received 430 votes, and Caryn Brokaw, who supervises the department's Law Enforcement Agency Data Systems and 911 center, received 423 votes.
Mr. Howard, a Mercer County Board member, received 785 votes while his Republican opponent, Christopher "Cricket" DeFrieze, received 566 votes.
Both winning candidates said they worked hard campaigning.
"This is what I've worked for a really long time," Deputy Staley said. "There was a lot of great support. I've been to every pancake breakfast, taco supper, soup supper. I did about (greetings) 1,500 door-to-door."
"It seems like it was day and night," Mr. Howard said. "I talked to a lot of people door-to-door, talked to groups."
Mr. Staley, born in Aledo and now living in Seaton, joined the Mercer County Sheriff's Department in 2001, serving as a telecommunicator, correctional officer and currently as patrol deputy.
Mr. Howard, of Aledo, is a retired sergeant major after 22 years in the Army. The decorated combat veteran also has been an Aledo police officer and the Joy police chief.
Both said the big issue facing the new sheriff will be the Mercer County Jail.
"We had a $6 million jail expansion," Mr. Howard said. "We've got to figure out how to keep those cells full to make enough money to pay for itself. Right now, that's not happening."
"At this point, I'm not convinced it (jail expansion) was the right thing to do," Deputy Staley said. "That new jail can be a boon or a bust for the sheriff's office."
Both said they would like to make changes in the department.
"I believe law enforcement is a taxpayer-provided service," Deputy Staley said. "Therefore, you need to serve the taxpayers and not turn it into a boardroom business. We've turned it into a boardroom business."
"I would like to see the deputies and other people who work down there to come in with a smile on their face," Mr. Howard said. "I want them to love their job. I don't get that feeling right now. I always told my soldiers on active duty, 'If you do not love what you do, you will not be successful.'"
Bill Glancey is serving as the current sheriff, tabbed by the county board on an interim basis after the retirement of Tom Thompson in December 2013. Mr. Thompson announced his retirement while serving a four-year term after he was re-elected in 2010.
Sheriff Glancey's term expires Dec. 2. He is not running for election in November.