Butler County sheriff’s race a primary sequel

Butler County voters will see a sequel when they go into the voting booths on Tuesday.

Sheriff Kelly Herzet is facing write-in candidate Walker Andrews, one of three opponents he defeated in the Republican primary in August.

Andrews, who finished second in the primary, said he was approached by numerous people after the primary to run as a write-in candidate.

“I’m pretty confident I would have won the Republican election” if there hadn’t been two other candidates – Curtis Cox and Mike Holton – splintering the vote, Andrews said.

Andrews received 26 percent of the vote in August, Holton 20 percent and Cox 14 percent. Herzet won the election with 40 percent.

Herzet, who is seeking a second full four-year term, said he reads the August election numbers differently than Andrews does. Cox drew a lot of his support from southern sectors of the county, he said, which makes sense because Cox is from Douglass. And Holton received plenty of support from the Towanda area, where he lives.

Herzet said he doesn’t think Andrews will receive all of the support from those people who voted for Holton or Cox in the primary.

Even though people he has consulted have told him write-in candidates rarely win, Herzet said he’s not overlooking his opponent.

“I have taken it seriously,” Herzet said of the write-in opposition. “I put more ads in the paper, I put signs up. I didn’t want people to think I took it for granted.”

Andrews has the support of Citizens for a Better Butler County, a political action committee. Grassroots support has driven his campaign, he said.

“I can only tell you what people have told me” about why they want a new sheriff, Andrews said. “They can’t retain seasoned deputies. Investigations aren’t thoroughly done.”

Herzet acknowledged difficulties in retaining detention and patrol deputies, but he said it’s not just a local problem.

“You can talk to any law enforcement agency around the country, and they can tell you trying to keep people employed is a hard thing in today’s world,” Herzet said.

While he’s fully staffed in patrol officers, Herzet said, he’s “a few short” in staffing at the Butler County Jail.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger