A hotly contested race is expected to draw many people to the polls in Tuesday's Runoff Election. Incumbent Covington County Sheriff Anthony Clark faces a strong challenge from Andalusia Police Officer Blaine Wilson.
The winner will take the Republican nomination going into the November general election.
Sheriff Anthony Clark is asking the voters for a third term in office. The ordained minister says he has brought community policing to one of the largest land counties in the state and believes he deserves four more years.
But former deputy and now Andalusia police Officer Blaine Wilson says Clark has lost control of the budget and the personnel.
In June’s Republican Primary, Wilson trailed Clark by less than two-percentage points in a field of four candidates. Longtime probate judge expects the race to draw out many of the county's 20,000 voters.
"I hope the interest will spark enough interest that we'll have a larger turnout than statewide. I hope it'll be at least 30 percent, but it'll probably be closer to 15 percent," said Sherrie Phillips of Covington County Probate Judge.
Wilson blames the sheriff for poor morale and rapid staff turnover. He says the jail is in crisis:
"The security at our county jail; 22 escapes that have occurred during Sheriff Clark's administration began. The number of unaccounted and unexplained deaths that have taken place there,” said Wilson.
Sheriff Clark says it's unfair for his opponent to blame him for everything that has gone wrong in the Covington County Jail. The sheriff points with pride to his work release program which is second to none in the state.
"I want to continue with work release. People need to be working and not be just sitting in the jail and using taxpayer money and nothing to do," said Sheriff Clark.
Probate Judge Phillips says the runoff should cost half the $50,000 that was spent in the primary, and she adds emotions will be running high on both sides.
The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face Democratic nominee Dennis Meeks in the November general election for the office of Covington County Sheriff.