Candidates in Chatham County Sheriff runoff race - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Candidates in Chatham County Sheriff runoff race

(L): John Wilcher (R: Sheriff Roy Harris) (Source: (L): John Wilcher (R: Sheriff Roy Harris) (Source:

Five candidates were in the running for Chatham County Sheriff – and it was a close one.

Roy Harris and John Wilcher will head to a runoff on March 29.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Harris has 33 percent of the vote, and Wilcher has 29. McArthur Holmes came in third, followed by Kim Middleton and Ken Williamson.

The winner of the runoff will fill the remainder of late Sheriff Al St Lawrence's term before primaries in May, and the general election in November.

Family and friends of Interim Sheriff Roy Harris gathered at the Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street to watch the results.

Sheriff Harris has had to answer some tough questions as of late, such as inmate deaths at the jail and personal attacks on where he lives and pays taxes, all the while campaigning and running the sheriff’s office. Both he and the wife of former Sheriff Al St Lawrence both say St Lawrence wanted Harris to be sheriff.

Harris served as the Chatham County Sheriff's Chief Deputy since 2011. He admits that the amount of personal attacks in the campaign surprised him, many of those coming from John Wilcher. However, he hopes that will not be the case in the runoff, and believes he is the best man to move the department forward. 

"Al wanted me to run for this position. It was not on my bucket list, but at the end there, he said, "You promised you would do it," and I am doing it. I am doing it not only for him, but the county, and the personnel at that sheriff’s office. If you ask them, most will say they like the positive changes we have made, and they want to keep moving forward,” said Interim Sheriff Roy Harris.

Harris is in the process of reforming and setting up the budget for next year, which he says is very time consuming, and he’s making major changes to the jail, which has been under fire lately.

Dozens of John Wilcher’s supporters filled a private room at Fiddler’s Crab Shack on Mall Boulevard for his watch party. They are very excited and consider Tuesday a small victory. A runoff came as no surprise to them, and they cheered as Wilcher addressed the crowd.

Wilcher has said time and again that his life-long ambition has been to be the Chatham County Sheriff, and he says that he’s in it for the long haul.

His campaign is not resting. They’ll start focusing on the runoff first thing Wednesday morning.

“My plan is that I want to appeal to McArthur Holmes and Kim Middleton for their support to help me win this, and make a change in this community. Everybody is tired of the status quo, and we want to make a big change in this community. We’re going to be out and running in the morning for the 29 runoff. My people are ready to go, my supporters are, and my backers with my money; we’re ready to go,” said Wilcher.

He says he came into the campaign prepared to run five times, and he’s confident they can pull this off.

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