Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett
In two small North Georgia counties where voter turnout in Tuesday's runoff primary election was high, the incumbent sheriffs were beaten by large margins.
In Dade County, Sheriff Patrick Cannon lost the Republican runoff to Ray Cross by more than 10 percentage points.
In Chattooga County, Democratic Sheriff John Everett, who has served one term, collected only 30 percent of the vote against Trion police officer Mark Schrader.
According to some of the challengers and their supporters, key issues in both races were public dissatisfaction stemming from a lack of training in their offices, unavailability to the public and, in Everett's case, a pending lawsuit in federal court.
Neither Everett nor Cannon returned calls seeking comment Wednesday. Cannon previously had said the broad field of challengers in the race didn't reflect any public criticism of his office. And Everett called the pending lawsuit a political ploy.
In Dade County, more than 3,000 of the 10,840 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday. Officials called the turnout high.
Linda Hensley, a Cross supporter from Trenton, said she voted for the former deputy because he's honest and has proven that he treats everyone fairly.
"I feel he's going to make a vast difference in the local sheriff's department," she said. "He is a sheriff who will protect and not harass."
Cross, who was one of four Republicans to challenge Cannon, said he decided to run for election after he went back to work in Dade County in 2010 and disagreed with the administration.
"I want to be a sheriff [the public] can reach and rely on," he said.
In past interviews, Cannon said he's been a reliable public servant, especially after the April 2011 tornadoes when his own house was destroyed and he worked to rebuild the community.
Cross will face former sheriff Philip Street, a Democrat, in the November general election. Street lost to Cannon in 2004.
In Chattooga County, where 11,465 residents are registered voters, 3,416 voted Tuesday.
Schrader, who spent the majority of his career at the sheriff's office, said he believes one of the main problems in the office is leadership. If elected, he wants to require law enforcement officers to receive 40 hours of annual training instead of the state's minimum requirement of 20 hours.
He believes that could prevent another incident like the one Everett and one of his detectives are accused of in a federal lawsuit.
A couple is accusing Everett and Investigator Kandy Dodd of deceiving a judge into signing a search warrant and then illegally searching the couple's home.
Everett stands behind Dodd and has told the Summerville News that the lawsuit was politically motivated.
Schrader will face Republican James Dawson ticket on Nov. 6.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...