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Woods, McFatten To Face Off In Marion County Sheriff Race

Marion County republican sheriff nominee Billy Woods.
Marion County republican sheriff nominee Billy Woods.

The next sheriff of Marion County will either be Republican candidate Billy Woods, or Democrat Dennis McFatten.

In the Republican primary, Billy Woods beat out opponent Kerry Crawford by taking home nearly 62 percent of the votes to Crawford's 38 percent.

The Democratic race was much closer with McFatten edging out former Marion County Sheriff, Ed Dean, with nearly 54 percent of the votes to Dean's 46 percent.

The Republican sheriff's race brought in almost 33,000 total votes, but the Democratic sheriff's race only garnered about 17,500 votes.

Before all of the precincts were reported, Woods said he was, "a little excited" about waiting for election results to roll in.

"It's been a contact sport," Woods said of campaigning. "For decades now, the sheriff's office has been taken down the wrong direction."

Crawford conceded the GOP nomination, but said he enjoyed campaigning.

"There's some days that were very long and physically and mentally demanding...I don't mind that a bit," Crawford said.

WUFT contacted Dennis McFatten, winner of the Democratic primary, but he could not be reached for comment after the final results were tallied.

Dean issued the following statement after losing to McFatten:

“I want to thank my family, friends and supporters for their help in my campaign for Sheriff. The people have spoken that Captain Dennis McFatten will be the Democratic standard bearer in the general election. I extend my congratulations to him for waging a successful Primary campaign and my best wishes to the dedicated men and women of the Sheriff’s Office in the future.”

Either Woods or McFatten will take over for former sheriff, Chris Blair, who was arrested in May 2016. He was removed from office and Gov. Rick Scott appointed Emery Gainey as interim sheriff in the meantime. Blair was indicted by a grand jury in June for two counts of perjury.

Blair did make a bid for reelection, but dropped out of the primary race in July, in exchange for dropped charges from the State Attorney's Office.

In another high-profile Marion County decision, incumbent superintendent of schools George Tomyn lost to Heidi Maier by nearly 4,000 votes. Afterward, Tomyn said, "I'm quite disappointed, as one could imagine... I'm very proud of the accomplishments we had made."

Caitie is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
Evyn is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.