Despite a contentious campaign season where challengers voiced a number of concerns, incumbent Charles Pearson earned the Muskogee County sheriff nod handily.
“We’ve been hard at work on improvements and things, and we’re looking forward to continuing on that path,” Pearson said.
Pearson, who won Tuesday’s primary election, will face Republican challenger Roger Lee in November’s general election.
Pearson took 64.49 percent of the vote (4,443 votes,) according to the Muskogee County Election Board. His closest challenger, Muskogee County Deputy Eddie Walker, earned 16.74 percent of the vote (1,153 votes.)
“It is real hard work trying to beat someone who’s been in there for so long,” Walker said of Pearson, who’s been sheriff since 2000. “We gave it a hard try.”
Walker said he hopes to continue his work for the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force under Pearson.
“I’ve told him that my bid for sheriff wasn’t personal, it was about me and what I want to do for the community,” Walker said. “I feel like me and him have done some real good work, and I’d like to continue that now that this is over if he’ll let me.”
Muskogee Police Officer Lonnie Bemo garnered 12.96 percent (893 votes,) while retired insurance investigator Jimmy Lee (3.88 percent, 267 votes) and former Muskogee County/City Detention Facility employee Emman Lorin Drywater (1.93 percent, 133 votes) rounded out the pack.
Challengers to Pearson’s post questioned deputy placement — saying there were too many deputies within the city limits — and complained about jail and courthouse security.
After gathering a commanding total of the primary votes, Pearson said the voters of Muskogee County had spoken.
“These totals say the citizens of Muskogee County are happy, and we’re going to keep them happy,” Pearson said. “I can’t tell you how humbled I am to come out with a win facing five opponents. People were telling me I would win outright, and I said, ‘You’re crazy.’”
With the primary election season over, Pearson said it’s time to get back to work on improving Muskogee County.
“If you look at the first eight years I was in office, it took us that long to get the jail just up to where it needed to be just to operate,” Pearson said. “And the next four years we spent getting our drug task force together and getting these investigation divisions in place, and that was an enormous task.”
The jail is Pearson’s target, should he defeat Lee in November.
“Now, the next thing we’re tackling is the jail and overcrowding,” Pearson said. “We’ve got to find an alternative way to raise that jail and we’ve got some pretty good ideas.
“We’re just going to keep on going.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth
Muskogee County Sheriff — Charles Pearson, 4,443, 64.49 percent; Eddie Walker, 1,153, 16.74 percent; Lonnie Bemo, 893, 12.96 percent; Jimmy Lee, 267, 3.88 percent; Emman Lorin Drywater, 133, 1.93 percent.