The July 31 primary contest for Forsyth County Sheriff is set after no voters challenged the way the candidates’ qualifying was handled.
“I’m glad that everybody has cooperated to let all three candidates get on the ballot and let voters decide who is the best candidate to be sheriff,” said Forsyth County Republican Party Chairman Ethan Underwood.
The candidates — Lauren McDonald, Duane Piper and incumbent Ted Paxton, all Republicans — qualified on time, but failed to provide a birth certificate and high school diploma as required before the qualifying period closed.
The county’s election board voted to accept the qualifying approved by the local party, noting that all candidates did submit the proper documents after the mix-up was discovered.
The board had received all required documentation it needed to certify the race on time. However, state law allows for registered voters to challenge a candidate within 14 days after qualifying ends, which was Friday.
Forsyth County Elections Supervisor Barbara Luth said she wasn’t surprised there was no challenge from voters.
“All three candidates were on board with it,” she said.
Underwood said the qualification issue stemmed from some confusion from those handling the process for the local Republican party.
While most offices just require candidates to complete an affidavit saying they graduated high school and are a legal U.S. citizen, that’s not the case for sheriff.
“The sheriff’s office has a different set of criteria than all the other candidates do,” Underwood said. “Personally, I don’t see why that’s the case, but you still have to follow the law.
“It’s my hope that perhaps the General Assembly, between now and 2016, will look and see whether those additional qualifying requirements are really necessary.”
Though the voter challenge wasn’t used in this case, Luth noted that she’s glad it’s in place.
“You don’t know if there’s a problem that somebody knows about that we don’t,” she said. “They sign a note that says, ‘yes’ they’re qualified. But if somebody knows something that they’re not telling us. It’s happened before, but not in Forsyth.”
No Democrats qualified to run for sheriff, so next month’s election most likely will decide the contest.