Dwayne Carey won the Democratic nomination for Boone County sheriff on Tuesday, earning 60 percent of the vote in a field of three candidates, all of whom have current or former employment ties with the sheriff’s department.
Carey will face Republican Mick Covington in the November general election. Maj. O.J. Stone, chief deputy of the sheriff’s department, came in second, followed by former sheriff’s narcotics officer Ken Kreigh.
“It makes us feel great,” Carey said of the resounding victory. “All this hard work paid off so far.”
For the first time since 1984, Sheriff Ted Boehm opted out of the race and into retirement, leading four hopefuls to compete for his badge. Their campaigns spread their messages at fairs, fund-raisers, party gatherings and public debates spanning the entire county.
The contest took a negative dip when Carey was accused of committing perjury by testifying in a 1999 lawsuit that he had no affair with the subordinate plaintiff, who accused the department of gender discrimination. The perjury allegations were dismissed July 29 after an investigation.
Carey’s wife, Leslie, said the campaign and the Carey family tried to brush off accusations of an affair.
“We are a really strong family,” Leslie Carey said. “We just put it over to the side and just kept on moving forward.”
Carey also received several key endorsements, including one from Boehm. Despite the support Carey received from key county officials, Kreigh remained the leader in fund raising with $66,546.
Carey is a sheriff’s captain in command of Boone County’s south enforcement division. He has worked for the department since 1989. Deputy Zach Kean, who works with Carey and Stone at the department, said Carey’s support from fellow deputies was important to his primary victory.
Kean, who volunteered for Carey’s campaign, said he supported Carey’s platform of enhancing programs Boehm has already begun.
“It’s not so much ideas as continuing the success that they had,” Kean said.
Kreigh is a former sheriff’s detective who supervised the department’s Drug Enforcement Unit and its Emergency Response Team. He had worked full time for the department since 1989 before resigning in February after an internal investigation of an October drug bust accused him of inadequate planning and cost him his position as a drug enforcement supervisor.
“We’ve run our campaign and stayed on our track,” Kreigh said. “I don’t have any regrets at all.”
Stone, who has worked for the sheriff’s department since 1977, said he was proud of his campaign.
“We maintained integrity,” he said. “We made a conscious decision not to use negative advertising. I refuse to take part in that.”
Stone said he would return to his job and wait for a new sheriff before deciding what to do.
Covington, the only Republican on the ballot, is a former captain with the Columbia Police Department, where he worked for 20 years. He is now training director of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association Training Academy. He said that throughout the coming months, the candidates’ platforms will start to differentiate themselves.
“I believe that identification and that difference will have to make itself known in the next three months. That’ll be part of the job we have ahead of us,” Covington said, adding he will focus on the issues of domestic violence and child abuse, methamphetamine trafficking and production, and traffic safety.
Many voters said they based their decisions on the candidates’ priorities, approachability during the campaign and personalities.
George Bunton of Centralia said he voted for Kreigh because “I’m very, very interested in busting the drug situation.”
Lawrence Dawson of Centralia said he voted for Carey because “he has the qualifications, he’s very friendly and outgoing, and he has a family.”
Marian Brandel of Hartsburg said she was looking for experience and professionalism, so she voted for Stone. The most important issue, Brandel said, is protecting the entire county.
“Southern Boone County gets neglected,” she said.
Boehm said tightening the race would make the campaign more interesting in the coming months.
“November is a completely different story,” Boehm said. “A completely different election. A completely different opponent.”