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Fri, April 03

Voters chose Waugh as sheriff<br><i>Wins office by nearly 2 to 1</i>

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STEVE Waugh

According to unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary election, Waugh took more than 60 percent of the votes and started an early lead in the race, leaving his opponents unable to close the gap.

The 58-year-old Waugh won the race for sheriff nearly 2 to 1 over former Sedona Police Chief Robert Irish, who garnered about 33 percent while challenger Rick Brenfleck of Camp Verde received 6 percent of voters' support.

Waugh will take office of sheriff left by Yavapai County Sheriff G.C. "Buck" Buchanan, who is leaving after 16 years of heading the largest law enforcement agency in the county.

At around 8 p.m., Sept. 7, when the first unofficial primary election results arrived from 52 precincts out of 104, which included the figures from early voting in those precincts, it was already clear that Waugh won the race for sheriff.

His closest opponent, Irish, was unable to close a 4,000-vote gap. Waugh automatically won the office, as he has no challengers in the general election.

In fact, when unofficial results from all 104 precincts arrived, the gap widened even more. Waugh received about 12,500 ballots, or 60 percent, while Irish received about 6,850 ballots, or 33 percent.

After investing a significant amount of time, effort and money into his campaign, Waugh said his hopes have finally become a reality.

"I’m ready for the task ahead," he said.

He added that he ran with the anticipation that he was going to be successful.

"I just knew I had to work hard, and I think I did that," he said. "I had a great support team and we all worked hard."

Waugh started his campaign early, making public appearances and spending a significant amount of funds for his run for office.

"I will hopefully be able to work with Sheriff Buchanan and create a transition team and start moving toward where we need to be in January," he said.

Irish was unavailable for comment.

Before any results were disclosed, Waugh said that he was very happy how his campaign evolved.

"We set out a plan and we’ve stayed with that plan," he said.

He added that what separates him from other candidates is his extensive experience in law enforcement.

"I have experience that matches well with what the responsibilities of sheriff are as identified by state law," he said, adding that his previous experience with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department seemed almost a training ground for the position as Sheriff.

He said his priority will be implementing his six-point plan, which consists of fiscal accountability, reduced response time, jail audit and review, improving employee morale, community involvement and aggressive crime fighting.

Sheriff Buchanan arrived at the Yavapai County Administration Building in Prescott shortly before the first round of results came out.

With a "Bob Irish for Sheriff" badge attached to his shirt, it was clear whom he supported.

Several months ago, after Buchanan decided not to run for another term, he endorsed Irish for sheriff. He said he felt relieved that he was not running in this election.

"My next and immediate mission will be to provide as smooth a transition as possible because this is not about me," he declared. "This is about the people who live in Yavapai County."

He said he hopes that his successor will consider the monumental successes that his office accomplished in recent years and that he will be able to listen to the public.

"We have one of the finest and most outstanding Sheriff’s Offices in the entire country," he said.

Mirsada Buric-Adam of the Daily Courier contributed to this story

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