A former candidate for Forsyth County sheriff has thrown his support behind the incumbent.
Lauren McDonald III announced Friday that he was endorsing Ted Paxton in the Aug. 21 runoff election.
Paxton, who received 48 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, will face Duane Piper, who finished second in the three-man contest with 27 percent.
McDonald, who has served for nearly 12 years as the county coroner, got 25 percent.
Since no man received more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates advanced to the runoff.
McDonald said he chose to support Paxton for several reasons, including the overall voter support the sheriff received Tuesday, as well as feedback from his own supporters.
“My supporters, I would say a lot of them aren’t unhappy with the sheriff’s department, but they believe in me and so I think that’s something that I appreciate from [them],” McDonald said.
“But 47-plus percent say we’re happy with the current administration so, you know, I look at that as important.”
He added that he asked his supporters before endorsing Paxton. “I listened to my supporters and I’ve called them and that’s the direction they want me to take and it’s the direction that I want to take.”
McDonald said Paxton had assured him he would work on improving two issues with which McDonad had concerns: the agency’s budget and school resource officers.
“I expressed some of my concerns of why I ran to [Paxton], one of the main reasons being our children … and getting into their lives and letting them know there are challenges out there and putting resources into the school system to fight those challenges and educate them,” McDonald said.
“The other thing … we talked about the budget and the management of the budget. There’s ways that every department needs to look at and ways that they can save because it’s the taxpayers’ money.”
Piper called McDonald’s decision “disingenuous.”
“During the campaign, Mr. McDonald pretty much adopted my platform that we’re spending too much money [in the sheriff’s office] and [improving] the school resource officer program that had been cut down,” he said.
“He’s chosen to endorse everything he ran against, so either that’s disingenuous at this point or he was being disingenuous during the campaign,” Piper said.
Paxton said he appreciated the endorsement.
“Obviously, the difference between mine and Mr. Piper’s vote, as far as the percentage, is quite a large margin,” he said. “With the endorsement of Mr. McDonald of us, we feel rather confident that the majority of the people who had voted for Mr. McDonald hopefully will be voting our way.”
Both Piper and Paxton said McDonald’s endorsement wouldn’t have much impact on the way they campaign.
“I’m still running on the same platform that I’ve been running on for the past 10 months,” Piper said. “We’re spending way too much.
“[If elected] we’ll cut that budget and we’re going to strengthen and increase the efficiency of our community watch programs.”
Said Paxton: “Over the next couple of weeks we’ll continue to campaign to be sure we get the voters back out to vote on Aug. 21. That’s crucial.”