Some Say Mud is Flying in Hoke Sheriff's Race
Posted June 14, 1998
RAEFORD — Some people in Hoke County say the sheriff's race is turning dirty and things are only going to get worse. On paper, the new sheriff was picked in the May primary, but another candidate has stepped forward. Rumors are flying about why he's really in the race.
With no Republican candidate, Hoke County residents in assumed Democrat Jim Davis was their next sheriff. Davis beat out incumbent Wayne Byrd in the Democratic primary.
Now, one of Byrd's top officers has entered the race as an Independent, and many people think it was a move to prevent Hoke County from having it's first African-American sheriff.
The candidates however, disagree.
Wayne Gardner has been in law enforcement for 16 years and is the chief deputy for the Hoke County Sheriffs Office.
"Never been a part of it and will never be a part of it," says Gene Shelnut, Gardner's campaign spokesperson.
Shelnut says Gardner is running for sheriff not to prevent an African-American from taking office, but rather to give voters another choice.
The spokesman says Gardner decided to enter the race after being encouraged by many residents to do so. He also credits the low voter turnout in the primary and comments he says Davis made about other county offices.
"Some statements he made in regards to other offices in the county other than his, we think he needs to concentrate on the sheriffs office," says Gardner.
Davis says some people have a problem with change. He says he has never brought race into this campaign and does not want to now.
"I know its an issue on everyone's mind, but we are not going to concern ourselves with that as a campaign issue," says Davis.
Gardner was able to enter the race and have his name listed on the ballot after gathering the required number of signatures on a petition.
The general election will be held in November.