FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The sheriff’s race was one of the most watched local races in Forsyth County in 2012.
Duane Piper, 49, came out victorious Nov. 6.
Piper unseated Ted Paxton in an Aug. 21 runoff. Paxton had served three consecutive terms since 2001. Piper also fended off against a last minute write-in candidate in the November general election.
Voter turnout was high with 81,997 ballots cast or 80 percent of registered voters, who took advantage of early voting.
Piper, who ran as a Republican, received 62,451 votes. Piper takes over the post of sheriff this month.
D.T. Smith, who ran as a write-in for Forsyth County sheriff, garnered 7,909 votes, an impressive turnout for a write-in candidate, county election officials said.
The sheriff’s race began in March with three candidates, Paxton, Piper and the former county coroner, Lauren McDonald III.
Piper forced the runoff by finishing second to Paxton in a three-man contest in the July 31 primary. Piper had tallied 27 percent of the vote, while Paxton had 48 percent. McDonald received 25 percent.
Piper has worked for the sheriff’s office for the last 16 years and quit to run for sheriff.
“For me, it was a process of a couple years, voicing my concerns from the inside,” Piper told the Forsyth Herald in October. “It became obvious that a different direction wasn’t desired by Sheriff Paxton and the command staff, and I had the vision and desire to bring about the new direction.”
Piper will start his turn with a $5 million cut out of the sheriff’s office budget.
The reduction from about $36.6 million to $31.6 million came at the request of Paxton, who said his challenger had campaigned on reducing the office budget by that number.
Forsyth County Commissioners have placed the $5 million into a reserve set aside for public safety.