By Cory Engle
With all precincts reporting in about two hours after polls closed, Don Reynolds won the race to be the next sheriff of Laurens County, beating petition candidate Stephane Williams by almost 3,000 votes.
Turnout was good on Tuesday, with over two thirds of registered voters in the county casting ballots. Of the 25,246 votes cast for sheriff, Reynolds earned 14,047 (55.64 percent) of the vote to Williams’ 11,096 (43.95 percent).
Williams ran as a petition candidate after Reynolds defeated incumbent sheriff Ricky Chastain in June’s Republican Primary. In that race, Reynolds’ strongest showings were in the precincts of Trinity Ridge, Barksdale-Narnie, Clinton 2, Jones, Greenpond, Cooks and Hickory Tavern.
On Tuesday, Reynolds once again did well in Barksdale (370-293), Jones (461-298), Cooks (713-456), Hickory Tavern (890-352) and his home precinct of Greenpond (684-256). The race was closer, however, in Trinity Ridge (399-334) and Clinton 2 (348-335), than they were in the primaries.
Williams was strongest in Clinton Mill (481 votes to Reynolds’ 163) and Laurens precincts 1-4, where he earned a combined 1,022 votes to Reynolds’ 308, but he failed to top Reynolds in precincts like Princeton, which was split 29-30 in the primaries but went to Reynolds 115-49 on Tuesday. Williams was also strong among absentee voters, but the 100-vote lead he had over Reynolds among them didn’t turn out to be enough to win the election.
“I’m very pleased,” said Reynolds, who watched the polls come in with supporters at Lee’s BBQ in Waterloo. “It’s been a long hard road, but all the hard work paid off.”
Reynolds didn’t list any specific plans for his first days in office, but said he wants to “assess what needs to be done and make changes so the office operates as efficiently as it can”.
He also had a message for criminals in Laurens County.
“They need to get it right or get gone, because change is coming,” he said.