Ray Cross wins Dade County sheriff race; Howard Ensley out in Murray County

Ray Cross wins Dade County sheriff race; Howard Ensley out in Murray County

November 7th, 2012 by Joy Lukachick Smith in News

Ray Cross, right, holds hands with his wife, Cindy Cross, and talks to his son, Kevin Cross, as Cross' family, and dozens of supporters wait to hear the final election results of the Dade County sheriff's race at the Dade County Commissioner's Office in Trenton, Ga., on Tuesday night. Cross, a former Dade County sheriff's deputy, won the election, beating out Philip Street.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

Ray Cross, the Republican candidate for Dade County sheriff, defeated former Sheriff Philip Street on Tuesday by about 10 percent of votes cast.

Street was sheriff for 20 years before losing to Patrick Cannon in the Democratic primary in 2004.

This summer, Cross defeated Cannon -- who switched parties after 2004 -- in the Republican primary runoff.

"I'm ecstatic," Cross said. "I want [residents] to know they're going to have one of the most transparent sheriff's department [that will] provide the best protection to the citizens."

Street said he believes part of the reason he lost is because he was on the Democratic ticket in a conservative area.

In Murray County, longtime Sheriff Howard Ensley suffered an upset by challenger Gary Langford.

Neither Ensley nor Langford returned calls seeking comment Tuesday night. But last week, Ensley said he didn't believe he would be affected by the recent firing of two of his officers who are wrapped up in a federal investigation into former Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran.

Cochran, who resigned in August, is being investigated for allegations that he solicited a women for sex and pre-signed arrest warrants. Two sheriff's deputies were fired after they lied to state investigators about a drug arrest involving the woman who accused Cochran of sexual misconduct. The charges against her were dropped.

In other races, Trion police officer Mark Schrader beat Chattooga County deputy Jamye Dawson for sheriff. Schrader defeated one-term incumbent Sheriff John Everett in the Democratic runoff election this summer.

In Walker County, longtime incumbent Republican Sheriff Steve Wilson beat his challenger. Tim Westbrook, in a landslide.

In Whitfield County, incumbent Sheriff Scott Chitwood received double the votes cast for his challenger, Jim Stafford.

In Catoosa County, write-in candidate Mark Cruise only received a nominal number of votes against Republican candidate Maj. Gary Sisk, who won the heated Republican ticket in a runoff race this summer.

Vote totals do not include federally mandated provisional ballots and are unofficial until certified by the secretary of state's office.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.