POLL WORKER Sadie Voyles assists Glenn Barrett as he prepares to vote early in the republican primary runoff election for the party’s nominee for sheriff.
Advance in-person voting in the runoff for the republican nomination for Sheriff of Grady County got underway Monday and as of the close of business Tuesday, a total of 113 votes had been cast.
Grady County chief registrar Malinda Butler told The Messenger Tuesday she had anticipated more voters than who had come in during the first two days of voting.
Butler also reported that 121 absentee ballots had been applied for and mailed to eligible voters and of that total only six had been returned.
Voters who voted in the republican primary in June or are registered and did not vote in last month’s election may vote in the runoff. Those who voted in the democratic primary an ineligible to vote in the runoff, which features incumbent Sheriff Harry Young and one of his former lieutenants, Steve Clark.
The chief registrar reminds local voters that they can apply for an absentee ballot and if they do not trust the mail, the convenient drop box located behind the courthouse is available for voters to deposit their absentee ballots.
The final day that Butler will mail out an absentee ballot is August 7. Runoff election day is Tuesday, August 11. There will not be a day of Saturday voting. Advance in-person voting will end on Friday, August 7 at 4:30 p.m. Voters are reminded that advance voting takes place at the Grady County Courthouse.
Sheriff Harry Young and his challenger, Steve Clark, both took part in the grand opening of the Grady County Republican Party headquarters in downtown Cairo Monday night.
Sheriff Young, who is seeking his fifth term, outlined his experience as sheriff and as an investigator with United Parcel Service. He also said that he had “done the job” for the last 16 years and he claimed he had done “a good job.”
“My office does more with fewer deputies than any other sheriff’s office in the state on per capita basis. I’ll put my office up against any other office in Georgia,” Sheriff Young said.
Sheriff Young, 76, first took office in 2005, and he told The Messenger earlier this year one of his proudest accomplishments took place this year with the creation of a county drug unit, which consists of Capt. Chris Luckey, Lt. Jake Bush and Lt. Michael Logue.
“I’ve worked on getting a drug unit since I became sheriff,” says Young. “I envisioned taking the drug dealers down, and that’s what we’re doing.”
In addition to his professional work, Young is active in civic activities. He’s a member of the Cairo Rotary Club, Whigham Community Club, American Legion Post 122 and Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the board of directors of the Grady County Children and Youth Council and has served on the board of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch. He says he’s active with Drug Free Grady and Grady County Family Connection.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Young says he attends Pine Park Baptist Church.
“I love this county. I want to make sure we have the best and safest county in the state of Georgia,” Young says.
Steve Clark told local republicans that up until two years ago he had worked for Sheriff Young, but he had left to take a job with the Technical College System of Georgia. After his children told him of alleged drug transactions taking place at Cairo High School, he said he knew that he must make a run for sheriff.
Careful not to speak ill of his former employer and his current opponent, Clark said he would be available after the grand opening to answer “any questions anyone may have.”
Sheriff Young also avoided being critical of Clark and said that either one of them would do a good job as sheriff, but Sheriff Young said, naturally, that he would do a better job and he added, “I believe my record speaks for itself.”
Clark suggested a new approach and focus was needed and he, like Sheriff Young, asked for the vote and support of local republicans.
Most recently, Clark has served as the assistant police chief with Southern Regional Technical College.
The 1986 graduate of Cairo High School worked at the Grady County Sheriff’s Office from January 1999 until April 2018 when he was fired by Sheriff Young.
Clark told The Messenger earlier this year he worked five years on patrol, three years in investigations and 14 years as chief investigator and narcotics investigator for the Grady County Sheriff’s Office.
Clark told the group of approximately 50 at Monday night’s grand opening of party headquarters that the county could ill afford to be complacent in its approach toward crime prevention and combating the use and trafficking of illegal drugs.
Clark told The Messenger in January, “Serving as your sheriff would be an awesome job that comes with an enormous responsibility to protect our county’s residents and provide a safe community for them and their families. I want to be that person for Grady County.”
Grady County Republican Party chairman Jeff Jolley thanked both men for coming and said that the party and county were fortunate to have two extremely qualified candidates running for the republican nomination. Chairman Jolley also committed the party to working with the nominee moving forward.
The winner of the August 11 primary runoff will face Democratic nominee Donald (Dickie) Thomas in the November general election.