For the first time in 12 years, Forsyth County will have a new sheriff as Duane Piper topped incumbent Ted Paxton in Tuesday’s Republican runoff.
Piper received 6,965 votes, or about 51 percent of the total, to Paxton’s 6,624 votes, or 49 percent.
Piper, who does not face opposition in the Nov. 6 election, will begin his four-year term in January.
“I’m tired and I’m very humbled,” said Piper, who watched the returns at a friend’s house. “My campaign workers have worked for a long 11 months and I’m humbled by the confidence the public has showed by electing me and I look forward to rewarding that by doing everything I said.
“I’m not sure what to say … I’m a little bit overwhelmed right now.”
The veteran lawman, who retired last fall after 16 years with the sheriff’s office, went on to note that he looks forward to serving the public, adding “that’s what this whole thing’s about anyway.”
Huddled with supporters Tuesday night at a Tam’s Restaurant in Cumming, Paxton reflected on his time in office. He was first elected to the post in 2000.
“I’m proud for all the work the people in the sheriff’s office have done,” he said. “I’m proud to have served the people in this county as long as I have and congratulations to Mr. Piper.”
Paxton added that he wanted to “thank all the people who supported us all these years and it’s truly been an honor and a pleasure to serve them.”
Piper finished second in the July 31 primary, carrying 27 percent of the vote. Paxton had 48 percent, while third candidate Lauren McDonald received 25 percent.
Piper credited his campaign’s determination for the victorious three-week turnaround.
“We worked hard,” he said. “We held, I don’t even know the number, but a whole lot of community meetings in the subdivisions and different places in the community and they understood what I was saying.”
He said he will now turn his attention to “providing the folks who live here in Forsyth County with the services, but not taking any more from them than we have to. And we’re going to cut that budget.”