There will be a new sheriff in town in December after 20 years.
Challenger James Woodruff defeated Troup County Sheriff Donny Turner with 59.63 percent of the vote to Turner’s 40.37 percent. Woodruff only lost in one precinct, Hollis Hand, by 40 votes. He will be the Republican nominee.
Woodruff thanked his numerous supporters at a private party after being declared the winner late Tuesday after results of the runoff were in.
He and those who gathered with him Tuesday night had walked a number of neighborhoods during the campaign, made calls and put up signs around Troup County.
“What I want to do is allow my guys and ladies to rest for a few days,” Woodruff said. “We will refocus on November.”
Woodruff will face Democratic challenger Ruben Hairston and independent candiate Clay Bryant in the November general election.
Turner did not answer a phone call for comment.
“I want to thank everyone who voted for me and allowed me to come by their homes and visit and put up signs and those who wrote messages on Facebook. It has meant the world.”
Supporters Tuesday night cheered as results for each precinct came in and praised Woodruff for surviving a number of personal attacks over the last several weeks.
Woodruff had defeated Turner in the primary election July 31, but not by enough of a margin to avoid a runoff. The third candidate in the July race, Danny Harrington, threw his support behind Woodruff after coming in last in July.
The last month of the campaign, before the July vote and the eventual runoff, had turned divisive. Turner was caught on tape threatening the current job of a former employee of the sheriff’s office who he had found out was campaigning for Woodruff.
It also was revealed that up to $300,000 in bail bond forfeitures had gone uncollected in the sheriff’s office over the last 10 years when the Daily News requested the information from state court Judge Jeanette Little. Turner and Troup County Clerk of Court Jackie Taylor, who aided in the collection process, insisted they had done nothing wrong and District Attorney Pete Skandalakis said nothing illegal had happened. But documentation obtained by the Daily News showed Turner and Taylor avoided any attempts to sit down and discuss the bond issue with county attorneys and state court officials.
Before the runoff Tuesday, a political action committee named Troup Mothers for a Safe Community formed on Aug. 8 and sent out a flier with false information about Woodruff. It was revealed this week after former state Rep. Jeff Brown did an open records request that former state Sen. Dan Lee, who is Turner and Taylor’s attorney, paid the registration fee for the Mothers group with the Georgia Secretary of State.