SALINE COUNTY -- Former Harrisburg Police Chief J. "Whipper" Johnson won the race for Saline County Sheriff Tuesday, and says he's overwhelmed with the confidence of those who voted for him.
"The voters sent a message and I heard it," Johnson said Tuesday night. "It's quite a compliment"
Johnson, a Republican, defeated incumbent Sheriff Ken Clore 5,965 to 3,526, according to unofficial vote totals Tuesday night. Write-in candidate Shawn Turner received 75 votes.
"This is a goal throughout my career I've set my sights on," Johnson said. "Shortly after I became a patrol officer, I was having breakfast at John's Cafe and discussed it with someone then. That was almost 20 years ago."
He said while he is excited to be elected the county's top law enforcement officer, he has challenges facing him immediately due to the county's poor financial condition.
"The budget is pretty poor and we're going to be doing some rescheduling and trimming the fat while trying to increase the number of patrols in Saline County," Johnson said. "I've got the talking part done. Now I need to make it happen."
Eldorado Police Chief Shannon Deuel, who has been a friend of Johnson's for years, said he is happy to see his friend win the sheriff's race.
"I've been with him through the good times and the bad times. I'm behind him all the way," Deuel said.
Johnson said he felt like his law enforcement career has led him to the sheriff's office. "My first 25 years was training for my real job as Saline County Sheriff," Johnson said.