In a runoff election Wednesday, Scott County residents chose a sheriff not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican parties.
Randy Shores, a 55-year-old Scott County native and cattle rancher, won the runoff election as an independent against incumbent Scott County Sheriff Terry Staggs with the Democratic Party by a nearly 2-1 margin. Shores registered as an independent last fall. He ran against four other Democratic candidates, including Staggs, in 2014.
According to Scott County Clerk Barbara Whiteley, also an independent, the final results from this week’s runoff were 1,039 votes for Shores and 539 votes for Staggs. In the general election, Nov. 8 Staggs received 1,161 votes to Shores’ 1,050.
Gary Blythe, owner of Blythe's Scott County Museum, said Shores is most likely the first independent elected as Scott County sheriff. The county traditionally has voted for a sheriff in the Democratic Party. The county, however, has voted mostly Republican on the state and federal levels in recent years. Whiteley said she was also the first independent Scott County Clerk elected.
“I never liked to be tied down to a particular political party,” Shores said by telephone Thursday, explaining his choice to run as an independent.
Shores will serve a two-year term, 2017-18. In November, voters passed an amendment that will extend sheriffs' terms to four years beginning in 2018.
Sheriff-elect Randy Shores and his wife, Diane Shores, have one daughter and a grandchild. Shores has been self-employed for 20 years, serves as vice president of the regional chapter of the Arkansas Cattlemen Association and has sponsored a summer youth softball program.
In addition to focusing on illegal-drug violators, Shores said he will have an “open door policy” at the sheriff’s office for citizens in hopes of encouraging more public interaction. It’s something he said he feels has been lacking in previous administrations.
Shores also said something he is willing to look into in relation to the county’s drug problem is alternative programs that work on altering drug addiction behaviors in an effort to reduce criminal recidivism rates.
According to the 2010 census, Scott County has 11,233 residents.