After three terms, Harris out as Sheriff

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2006

71 votes were all that separated incumbent Diane Harris from the chance at a fourth term as sheriff of Butler County.

71 votes that belonged to challenger Kenny Harden.

In a race to the finish, Harden defeated Harris 2,304 to 2, 233 in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday and will represent the party in November's general election against Republican candidate and McKenzie Police Chief Clint Reaves.

With the final box reported, Harris congratulated Harden, whose campaign to unseat her in 2002 fell short by 100 votes in a run-off.

&#8220I wished him well,” Harris said. &#8220I'm proud of what I've accomplished in three terms as sheriff and what we've done for Butler County.”

Harris, who became the first female sheriff in Alabama in 1994, said she doesn't know what lies ahead for her in the future.

&#8220I can retire or I can go and work somewhere else,” she said. &#8220I've already had several job offers from people who thought this could happen with the mudslinging going on.”

Ardent Harris supporter Ada Lee Williams hugged Harden as he made his way through the Butler County Courthouse Annex accepting handshakes and congratulations from those in attendance.

&#8220I did everything I could to beat you, but now I'm here to help you,” Williams told Harden.

Harden said it was a &#8220relief” to win the primary.

&#8220But now we have to get ready for the general election,” he said. &#8220And we start work tomorrow.”

Harden thanked his family for their continuous support, as well as the people voting on Tuesday who saw the need for a change in the Butler County Sheriff's Office.

&#8220I'm asking for all of those people who voted today to come out in November and support me,” he said. &#8220Let's move Butler County forward.”

The close race did not surprise Harden.

&#8220I expected it,” he said.

The race was tight throughout, swinging back and forth between Harris and Harden until the final box, Forest Home, was tabulated close to 10 p.m.