Incumbent Sheriff Kevin Woodward was defeated by challenger Joe Harper in the Aug. 25 runoff election, and will be the next Payne County Sheriff.
The Payne County Sheriff’s race was just one of many runoff elections held across the state, but was the only election open to the registered voters of Stillwater.
Since there were no Democratic challengers for the Sheriff’s position, Harper’s win in the runoff will earn him the seat, without having to go to a general election.
Woodward went into Tuesday night with a slight lead on Harper from mail-in and early voting, according to unofficial election results published by the Oklahoma State Election Board. Despite this initial setback, voters who cast their ballots in-person on election day went decisively for Harper, with 1,828 votes to Woodward’s 1,334.
The preliminary numbers released by the election board have Harper winning with a total of 2,121 votes to Woodward’s 1,664.
Following his victory at the polls on Tuesday, Sheriff-elect Harper spoke to The O’Colly about what to expect from the Sheriff’s office moving forward.
“I wanted Payne County to have a Sheriff that they kind of knew, and would recognize out in public,” Harper said.
Harper said he started working in the Sheriff’s office in 2003, and he liked the way they did things at the time. He said the Sheriff at the time, Carl Hiner, was always out with the deputies, checking on the jail, and making sure everyone had the tools they needed to get their jobs done.
Harper started working in the jail, and quickly moved to dispatch, he said. In 2007, Harper said he decided to seek his CLEET certification, and he began working livestock investigations upon its completion.
Harper offered a few examples of what his priorities would be once he gets sworn in to office on January 3rd.
He said he wants to check in with his employees, and make sure everything is going alright with them. Additionally, Harper said the office’s communications equipment and procedures need updating, and he wants to make that happen.
“It’s all kind of sinking in now what we have ahead of us,” Harper said. “I’m excited.”
Administrators at all levels of the Sheriff’s office need to be out in the field more with deputies, Harper said. He said he hopes that OSU students and faculty will think of the Sheriff’s office as being a part of their community.
This story is an update of The O'Colly's previous election day coverage. The update was published on Aug. 28, following an interview with Sheriff-elect Joe Harper. No changes were made to the original story.