By Julie Vaughan, Editor
Tuesday’s run-off election proved to be interesting as voters let their voice be heard when it came to who they wanted as the Republican candidate for Van Zandt County Sheriff in the November General Election.
Long-time incumbent sheriff R.P. “Pat” Burnett faced veteran law enforcement officer candidate Lindsey Ray, and was handily outvoted.
In the May party primary, Burnett received 2,815 or 37.29 percent while Ray received 3,383 or 44.81 percent, and sheriff’s candidate hopeful David Wiley received 1,351 or 17.90 percent.
In the two months that followed, both Burnett and Ray continued to campaign for the job and even attended a debate hosted by the Canton Tea Party. Burnett had the backing of the local Tea Party.
However, Van Zandt County voters favored Ray at the end of early voting, giving him 59.73 percent of the vote to Burnett’s 40.27 percent.
With 15 precinct voter boxes reported in and counted and three more boxes still out, the election was called with Ray leading by close to 2,000 votes.
When all boxes were finally counted, Burnett ended up with 2,800 votes or 37.52 percent, while Ray ended with 4,662 votes of 62.48 percent of the vote.
Ray said he did not change his strategy when he reached the run-off election; he continued to knock on doors and was campaigning for office up until 7 p.m. on Election Day.
“We did a very good job….and this has been a team effort,” Ray continued, adding that his team of volunteers has numbered at least 100.
“I am totally 100 percent blessed,” Burnett said about making it to the run-off.
“I can only be me and I can tell you from my standpoint that I still love this county and I have enjoyed serving this county,” Burnett said. “This wasn’t personal and politics shouldn’t get personal.
“In the morning when I wake up and look in the mirror, I will know that I’ve done everything that I can do,” Burnett added. “We’ve done everything that is morally and ethically right, and I hope that will continue. I love this county and community, and I will continue to love this county.”
Additionally, Ray issued a prepared statement saying the following:
“The race for the Republican Party nomination for sheriff has been an exciting and robust contest. To those citizens who took part in this election, I would like to thank you for participating in the ‘process.’ Most of all let me say thank you to every citizen who voted for me. I will work very hard to sustain the trust you have placed in me. I will also work very hard to gain the trust of those who did not cast their vote for me.
“Sheriff Burnett has served our county for almost 12 years. I wish him and his wife Lenda well in the next season of their lives.
“The election for sheriff is not over. I will certainly need your continued support throughout the next phase of this campaign.
“My wife Becky and I look forward to the general election, when I will face Debbie Davis. I have known and respected Debbie and her husband Tommy for many years.
“I would also like to thank the teams that made this victory become a reality. First, thank you to those that I refer to as my ‘inner circle,’ the outstanding community leaders who approached me many months ago and asked me to prayerfully consider running for sheriff. You are gifted men and women who, together, had a fresh vision for our county; and had the faith in me to be the one to turn that vision into reality. To you I say, ‘Job well done.’ Thank you for always taking the ‘high road.’
“Let me also say ‘thank you’ to the citizens of our communities who dug deep and worked hard to help provide the needed financial resources to successfully run a countywide campaign. This campaign has received donations from folks who struggled to give a dollar or two, to blessed individuals who were able to donate thousands of dollars at a time. Men and women from all walks of life including doctors, lawyers, farmers, teachers, truck drivers, police officers, and even current and former elected officials have joined with us. What a team! I am so humbled by your trust.
“To my family I simply say, ‘Without your endless support, I would surely fall so short so very often. I love you.’”