By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Jim Johnson remains Lee County’s sheriff’s, at least until November.
Johnson defeated Marty Rock in Tuesday’s Republican primary after months of verbal sparring. Johnson, vying for his third consecutive term as Lee County Sheriff, will face Dovie Outlaw Williams in the Nov. 23 general election. Williams bested Sam Piraino in the Democratic primary.
Despite Tuesday night’s win, Johnson said he knows he still has a lot of work to do.
“I can honestly say that I will get the best night of sleep that I’ve had in the past six months,” said Johnson. “I’m relieved that this part of it is over, but we have another race to get ready for very soon. Everyone will take a little family time and get right back to work. We want to keep this momentum.”
Johnson won 81 percent of the vote, or 9,939 votes to Rock’s 2,390.
For the second time in consecutive elections Rock has lost the sheriff’s race to Johnson. Despite his disappointment in the outcome, Rock said he wanted to congratulate Johnson.
“I feel like I put out the information that people needed to know and they can take it like they want to,” Rock said. “I still believe in everything I said in my campaign. I got in this race because I wanted what’s best for Lee County and I still do.”
In the Democratic race, Williams won 52 percent of the vote to defeat Piraino. Neither candidate was available for comment.
About 200 friends, family and employees watched the election results unfold with Johnson at the Tupelo Furniture Market, while Rock and a much smaller group watched from Rock’s home.
With a live band, buffet-style meal, and blue and while balloons floating around, Johnson’s gathering looked more like a party than a campaign headquarters.
“This job and this process is so stressful that you have to have some fun,” said Johnson.
Monroe County’s sheriff’s race will have to be decided in a runoff. Democratic challenger Cecil Cantrell and incumbent Andy Hood had the highest two vote totals out of the four candidates. Cantrell received 45 percent of the votes while Hood was a distant second at 27 percent.
Pontotoc will have a familiar face in the sheriff’s office over the next four years. Leo Mask, who served a term as Pontotoc County sheriff before the previous term, beat incumbent Neal Davis. Davis unseated Mask in the 2007 elections.