Davis elected Barry County sheriff
After months of campaigning and winning a six-man Republican primary, Gary Davis of Cassville won the Barry County sheriff post over Democrat Justin "Dave" Ruark.
Davis, a retired FBI special agent, received 10,218 votes, or 71 percent, and Ruark, a deputy with the Barry County Sheriff's Office, received 4,195 votes, or 29 percent.
Davis said he was pleased with how the race turned out.
"I want to thank God and the citizens of Barry County for honoring me with this post, and I will try to do a good job for them," he said. "I look forward to getting started, and [current Sheriff] Mick [Epperly] has already told me he will help me out all that he can to show me where everything is.
"I think it will be a smooth and orderly transition."
Ruark said he wanted to congratulate Davis on the result and the race.
"We both ran a very clean race, and the people voted," he said. "I had a good time running. It was a fun learning experience and something I plan on doing again.
"I was surprised a little bit [by the margin], but I did not have all the resources a lot of the other guys had starting off, and I was a little late getting my signs up."
Davis won the Republican primary in August by only 65 votes, with Seligman and Wheaton shifting the race in his favor over the other five candidates. This time around, Davis won every one of Barry County's 16 precincts, plus the absentee vote. The closest precinct was Butterfield/McDonald at a 61-38 margin, and the widest was in the Monett Rural/Capps Creek precinct at a 79-21 margin.
Davis said he was surprised to see such a high margin of victory.
"It was higher than I thought it would be, but I am pleased" he said. "It makes me feel good in that this is the way people want to see the county go, with the way I campaigned."
Ruark said he believes filing as a Democrat may have widened the gap between he and his opponent.
"Everyone knows this is a Republican county, so that's no secret," he said. "You can look at [Democrat] Wayne Hendrix [running for reelection to southern commissioner against Republican Matt Cupps], he was running unopposed because his opponent dropped out and there were still more than 3,000 votes [for Cupps]. That tells you at least 3,000 people just went through and marked Republican."
Hendrix garnered 4,256 votes in that race, or 56 percent, and Cupps, who suspended his campaign in late September after only light campaigning, received 3,386 votes, or 44 percent.
Ruark said he plans to keep doing his part to fight crime in Barry County as a deputy.
"I will keep doing my job the best that I can," he said. "I will still fight the drug problem as I promised and do my part. Just because I lost the race does not mean I am out of the war."
Davis said he has already sent a memo to be posted at the sheriff's office, in effect saying anyone who wishes to keep their job may keep it.
"It says if you do your job, you've got a job," he said. "We will go from there and take it one day at a time. You can only ask people to do what they were hired to do, and if they are doing that job, they will keep it."
Davis said that includes Ruark, who with whom he had a conversation at the Barry County Courthouse on election night.
"We had a conversation and it went really well," he said. "Dave and I had an amicable campaign, and I told him the same thing I am telling everyone else -- if you do your job, you've got a job."
Davis said today (Wednesday) he will travel the county to take down all his signs, then he will take the rest of the week off and start next week getting acquainted with the office.
"I will start going in next week and finding my way around," he said. "I know where all the big things are, but I've got to get down to the nuts and bolts now. After campaigning, doing the job will be fun."
Davis will officially take office on Jan. 1, 2017. He replaces Epperly, who served 28 years in law enforcement, including five consecutive terms as sheriff.