The 2020 primary election is in the books with a much larger voter turnout than usual, according to Bryan County election officials.
Incumbent Johnny Christian won a hotly contested race for a second term as Bryan County Sheriff in convincing fashion, with more than double the number of voters casting ballots than during the previous election for the office.
Christian notched 1,696 of the 3,012 votes cast by Bryan County voters (56.31 percent). Steve Nabors claimed second with 730 votes and Charles "Butch" Boucher was third with 586.
In the 2016 election, ballots were cast by a total of 1,417 voters with Christian snagging 972 of those to defeat John Wyatt by 527 votes and secure his first-term victory.
"It was an amazing night and seeing the voter turnout was amazing," Christian commented of last week’s election. "I greatly appreciate all my supporters and appreciate the opportunity to move forward with the sheriff’s office for the next four years.
"Voters were able to educate themselves on each candidate. The way we ran our race was very professional. We ran on our accomplishments, how far we’ve come and what we are looking ahead to. We’ve had so many accomplishments over the last four years and we want to keep moving forward with those."
Over the past month, the sheriff’s race had become contentious at times on social media, which may have caused the spike in voting numbers.
Many registered Democrats were upset, however, in not being able to vote in the race that included just three Republican candidates due to Oklahoma election restrictions.
"I would like to thank everyone for all of the support and kindness shown to me and my family, we are forever grateful for that," Nabors stated after the election. "I would like to thank the Boucher campaign for running a clean race alongside of us. Thank you, Bryan County, for all of your support."
Following the announcement of the results, Boucher commented, "Thank you to all my family, friends and supporters and citizens of Bryan County. We wish you the best and pray you get the justice we deserve."
Christian now looks to the next four years with several goals and initiatives in mind for his second term in office.
Among the biggest of those is trying to add more staff.
"In our first term, one of big things we did was starting our 24-hour coverage," Christian said. "Every criminal knows now that we are out here 24 hours a day and you don’t know where we are at. We’ve done a lot of good in those late-night hours while most of the county citizens are trying to rest peacefully. We’re going to continue that.
"We want to keep big on the crime prevention and pro-activeness in the public. Right now, we are going from call to call, but we’d like to get more deputies, get more funding for more deputies. We have about 20 right now, with at least two or three on duty at all times. We definitely want to do that and make sure have enough personnel out there to cover the whole county as well as being proactive to handle crimes. There are 944 square miles, so we are dealing with a big county," he said.
"We work closely with the county commissioners when it comes to budget time, so hopefully we can budget more deputies as Bryan County continues to grow in population. We’ve got to be able to keep up with that."
In other local election results, voters in Achille turned down the town proposition in a vote of 36-20, while Kasey Ervin won that town’s open school board seat by a narrow 193-175 margin over Roger West.
Rock Creek’s school board race was another tight battle with Deidra Munson edging out Donna Sue Williams by a 295-261 count.
Bryan County voters were overwhelming against the controversial State Question 802 dealing with Medicaid expansion, which was narrowly approved statewide.