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By CARL SMITH
Steve Gladney says he never set out to personally unseat Sheriff Dolph Bryan, but no matter the result of Novemberâ€™s general election, a new person will take the position of Oktibbeha Countyâ€™s top law enforcement officer.
Gladney, who served with the Mississippi Highway Patrol for almost 29 years, said he was incredibly humbled after the final vote tally was read aloud Tuesday night. His victory against Bryan comes in his first run for public office.
â€śHe came over and we shook hands. I have absolutely nothing but respect for Dolph Bryan. He gave the county probably close to 40 years of service,â€ť Gladney said. â€śI knew it was going to be a tough race, especially running against an incumbent. I was grateful for the vote of confidence I received.â€ť
The key to Gladneyâ€™s Tuesday victory was his ballot results outside of Starkville. Gladney and Bryan were separated by only 11 votes from Starkvilleâ€™s eight precincts, but Gladney received 1,459 county votes compared to Bryanâ€™s 1,033 votes from outlying county precincts.
In Starkville, Gladney and Bryan split precincts, winning four each. Bryan won Central Starkville (174 to 138), East Starkville (10 to 5), North Starkville District 3 (223 to 121), Northeast Starkville (29 to 14), while Gladney won Gillespie (217 to 150), North Starkville District 2 (181 to 139), South Starkville (339 to 326) and West Starkville (302 to 255).
County results reflected a Gladney surge â€” he won 11 of 13 precincts; Bryan only secured a nine-vote victory in North Longview and a two-vote win in South Adaton.
Gladney will now turn his attention to his GOP competition: Rudy Johnson.
With Bryanâ€™s defeat, Johnson, the executive director of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, said his campaign strategy will remain unchanged.
â€śI wasnâ€™t running against Dolph; I was running to become Oktibbeha County Sheriff. (Gladney and I) are running for something we want,â€ť Johnson said. â€śIâ€™m going to go out and see as many people in the county as I can and talk about increasing service and increasing the capacity of the sheriffâ€™s department.â€ť
Gladney, too, said he will continue a similar knock-and-greet campaign strategy into November â€” the same strategy which earned the Democratic partyâ€™s nomination.
â€śIâ€™m like everyone else; I want this community to be safe and a desirable place to life,â€ť he said. â€śWe work hard to have a safe community to raise our families.â€ť
After the race, Bryan said, â€śI had a long run, I had a wonderful job (and I) worked for a lot of wonderful people for a long time. Iâ€™ll do anything I can to help Steve Gladney to get his feet on the ground. Whatever I can do, Iâ€™m going to do the right thing. I made my office doing the right thing, so Iâ€™m going to do the right thing in my defeat. I always tried to be a good winner, so I want to be a good loser â€” itâ€™s important.â€ť
On Wednesday, Bryan said he was not planning on endorsing a candidate.
Angie McGinnis, Oktibbeha County circuit clerk, said as of Wednesday, her office had yet to receive any major reports of voting irregularities from election night, however two voting machines malfunctioned because due to excessive heat.