11/08/06 — Winders remains Sheriff

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Winders remains Sheriff

By Lee Williams
Published in News on November 8, 2006 1:46 PM

Wayne County voters decided Tuesday to give incumbent Sheriff Carey Winders another four years in office.

Winders fought off a challenge from retired Goldsboro police officer Ken Edwards by an overwhelming majority of 2-to-1.

The results have yet to be certified by the Wayne County Board of Elections, however. Unofficially, Winders garnered 13,483 or 68 percent of the vote, while Edwards claimed 6,438 or 32 percent of the vote.

During a reception that featured more than 400 guests at Lane Tree Golf Course on Salem Church Road Tuesday, Winders said he was thrilled the voters chose to give him another four years in office.

"I think the people were satisfied with the improvements that we have made at the sheriff's office," Winders said. "I am thankful for the citizens who put their confidence and trust in me to lead the Wayne County Sheriff's Office."

Winders, who has held the sheriff's post for 12 years, has accomplished many things during his tenure. He bought better equipment, tackled drugs and reduced felony crime by 16.6 percent since taking office.

Despite the accomplishments, Winders remained anxious until the election results rolled in. Although many promised to back him, Winders said he refused to take anything for granted, so he campaigned hard.

Winders said he knocked on doors, went to numerous social and civic events and "ate a whole lot of barbecue." He also spent about $15,000 in his re-election bid because he loved his job and he wanted to keep it, he said.

But, some like Wayne County Republican Party chairman Ed Wharton had no doubt Winders would reclaim his seat for a fourth term.

"I think he's done a super job," Wharton said. "He's done an excellent job during the time he's been there. You can drive down the street and see a deputy. Before you couldn't do that. Years back, we didn't have the coverage."

Winders is a Republican. Edwards is a Democrat. The majority of voters in Wayne County are Democrat, but Wharton said support for Winders crossed party lines.

"When the election is over, I'm sure you'll be surprised how many Republicans and Democrats voted for him because they feel safe in the county now," Wharton said.

Wayne County Democratic Chairman Gaspar Gonzalez did not return a call requesting comment about the democratic challenger.

Edwards, who spent less than $3,000 in his bid for sheriff, didn't fare as well.

Edwards was unavailable for comment after the election results were published, but said earlier he really wanted to win. He just didn't have the time or money to support the effort.

But no matter how the vote came down, Edwards said he would accept the results.

"Whatever happens is the Lord's will," he said. "Either way, I'm not going to be disappointed."

Edwards, who retired from the police department after 30 years of service to run for the position, planned to improve staff efficiency, employee morale and bring a more proactive approach to fighting crime.

Edwards, who also owns a firing range, said he decided to run for office with money out of his own pocket. Although some offered, Edwards said he refused to take campaign donations.

"I realize that a political campaign requires financial backing, but I have a concern when it comes to a law enforcement official accepting money from people," he said. "It opens the door for some people to try and influence the sheriff based on their financial support."

Winders dismissed Edwards' claim that accepting campaign donations encourages unethical behavior. Winders added it was an accepted practice employed by dozens of sheriffs during their election bids.