Forsyth County voters on Tuesday whittled the field for sheriff and set up a runoff later this month to decide the contest.
Three-term incumbent Ted Paxton and Duane Piper, a longtime employee of the agency who resigned last fall to run for sheriff, will meet Aug. 21.
Paxton received 13,093 votes, or 48 percent of the total in the Republican primary, while 7,529 votes, or 27 percent, went to Piper.
Lauren McDonald III, the county’s current coroner, garnered 6,860 votes, or 25 percent.
Paxton and Piper both said they’re looking forward to the extended campaign.
“We feel confident and are right where we thought we were going to be at,” Paxton said of his campaign. “Obviously with three people in a race, it’s going to be hard for anybody to break out with 50 [percent plus one vote].
“But now with it being head to head, we feel confident we will prevail.”
Piper said all the hard work now comes down to the runoff.
“My reaction is that it’s been a 10-month campaign and it’s down to three weeks now,” he said. “We’ve still got work to do. We’ll just keep working doing the same things we’ve been doing.”
McDonald said he enjoyed the opportunity.
“It was a great experience to run for such an important office in the county,” he said. “I enjoyed meeting new people. I enjoyed the platform that we had and I hope we made a difference out there.”
McDonald also expressed gratitude for the experience.
“I want to thank the supporters and I want to thank the other candidates,” he said. “We all had a good race … we had some good debate between us at the four different opportunities we were able to go in front of the community.”
Paxton said he plans to also continue what he’s done throughout the campaign.
“The only thing I’m going to do is continue to run on my record, what I’ve done, what we’ve provided to the people of the county, what we’ve done and I’ll just be running on my record,” he said. “That’s what I have to stand on and I’ve very proud of it.”
Whichever Republican wins the runoff will be unopposed in November’s election.