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Sheriff Barry Faile celebrated with his family late Tuesday night as he was projected to win a second term in office.
According to unofficial results from the Lancaster County Election Commission at about 11 p.m., Faile was projected to win with 64.6 percent of the vote, which translates to 20,229 votes. His Republican challenger, Great Falls police officer Scott Case, trailed with 10,067 votes, which was 35.29 percent of the vote.
The vote tally does not include all absentee votes, which had still not been fully counted by midnight.
“I feel good about it,” Faile said. “I’m glad it’s over so we can put 100 percent of our energy back into serving the people of Lancaster County.”
Faile said his biggest worry during the campaign was voters marking a straight -party ticket, especially if those voters were Republicans, which would cast a vote for his opponent.
“We said from Day One that a straight-party ticket was a concern,” Faile said.
Looking at the results late Tuesday night, Case said he was “very disappointed.”
“I felt like we did a lot of groundwork, met a lot of people,” Case said. “But I still had 35 percent of the vote and that means a lot.
“I’m sad, especially when you do something for eight to nine months like this,” he said.
Case said he called Faile shortly after the precinct numbers were released and congratulated his challenger on the win.
“I left him a message on the number I was given and thanked him for running a good, clean campaign and wished him the best,” Case said.
Despite the projected loss, Case plans to try again in four years.
“2016 is right around the corner,” Case said. “I have my faith and I believe I just have to regroup. I will continue being a good police officer and I will learn more and do more of what it takes to win.”
Violent crime was central to this year’s sheriff’s race, with both candidates offering solutions for curbing everything from illegal drugs to gangs to armed robberies. Each candidate also spoke out on the county’s high murder rate, which had reached 11 by the end of October. Strategies for increased funding and manpower were also on each candidate’s agendas.
Faile hoped to see the final absentee vote tallies move in his favor and said his first priorities in his second term will be targeting specific types of crimes, specifically drugs and gangs. He plans to unveil a crime-tracking strategy so deputies can target specific crimes in different areas of the county.
“Then we can get to the root of the problem,” he said.
But first on Faile’s “to do” list was to spend more time with his family.
“They’re glad it’s over,” Faile said. “When you’re running a campaign, you almost feel like you’re neglecting your family, when you’re knocking on doors and being everywhere. I’ll be trying to spend some time with them now.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416