Two sheriffs, one deputy win their primaries

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Two incumbent sheriffs and a chief deputy defeated their primary challengers Tuesday.

In Scott County, Sheriff Rick Walter defeated Bobby Sullivan 2,894 to 1,752 in the Democratic primary.

Sullivan, a detective with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, began campaigning with large signs placed around the county several months before the primary but was unable to overcome the incumbent Walter.

"I was pleased. You never know how it's going to come out," Walter said after the election results were tallied.

Walter said that while he looks forward to concentrating on his work, he's mindful of the fact that he now faces Republican Wes Drury, who ran unopposed for his party's nomination, in the November race.

Walter has said he would not support resurrecting a half-cent sales tax slated to end this year and instead plans on replacing the lost revenue by working on plans to house federal immigration inmates at the county jail.

"I think people looked at our record and liked what we've done so far and want us to keep doing it," Walter said.

"I'm going to do the best I can," he said.

In Perry County, incumbent Gary Schaaf defeated Joe Martin, a sergeant with the Perryville Police Department, by a 2,773-1,137 vote in the Republican primary election. Schaaf has served as sheriff of Perry County for 16 years.

As sheriff, Schaaf said, he has always prioritized a crackdown on drugs, serving on the executive board of the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force, and plans on continuing to do so.

In Bollinger County, voters selected Leo McElrath by a 1,532-294 vote over challenger Ryan McCleary. McElrath currently serves as chief deputy for the Bollinger County Sheriff's Department and has 27 years of experience in the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

In the wake of a severe ice storm and flooding that ravaged Bollinger County earlier this year, McElrath has proposed upgrading fire department water rescue equipment and furnishing county road employees with vehicles and chain saws that will allow them to get to work in the case of blocked roadways.

He has said that serving as chief deputy has allowed him to familiarize himself with the daily workings of the department and given him experience in handling the budget, leading investigations and directing deputies in their operations.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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