MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Republican challenger Robert Arnold has defeated longtime Democratic incumbent Truman Jones to become Rutherford County's next sheriff.
With 48 of 48 precincts reporting late Thursday, the Rutherford County Election Commission showed Arnold with 15,241 votes and Jones with 12,544 votes.
Independent Jeff Griswold received 1,666 of the votes even though he dropped out of the race just prior to early voting.
His name, however, was already on the ballot and couldn't be removed.
Jones has served as Rutherford County's sheriff for more than a quarter century and told News 2 he was shocked by the result.
“I thought it would be extremely wide margin on our side,” Jones said Friday.
He said it has been an emotional day because he knows he will have to say goodbye to many colleagues who he's worked with over the past 27 years.
“Everybody can hold their heads high,” Jones said. “It's just one of those situations, we got caught up in a national trend and that we could absolutely do nothing about and that's just part of it sometimes.”
Jones said he believes people voted for Arnold because he's a Republican.
“Every Democrat was beaten and beaten by people who either had no experience or no one even knew,” he said.
Jones said he's proud of his tenure at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office and proud of the employees he's worked with over the years.
“I will offer support to the people that are here,” said Jones. “I think that they should be treated fairly. They've earned that right. They've been here a long time. They've been exemplary employees. I think as long as they're taken care of and they're allowed to do their jobs the way they have in the past, I'll be happy.”
Arnold told News 2 it's been a whirlwind campaign that, at times has been very negative, and he's looking forward to taking the sheriff's office in a new direction.
“I want to be a working sheriff,” he said. “You'll see me out on the street, see me in uniform. I may be in LaVergne doing stuff and the next thing you know I'm out in Eagleville. I'll be everywhere.”
Arnold said he wants to concentrate on building stronger relationships with the community.
“The biggest thing I think is tearing down the walls within the community that I believe this department has built and building bridges with this community,'” he said.
Even though Arnold told News 2 the election result is still sinking in, he's ready for the challenge and excited to take over the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office on September 1.
“I've got a lot of work ahead of me, and I know that,” Arnold said, “and I plan on working to the best of my ability to satisfy the citizens of Rutherford County.”
- Aug. 3, 2010: Sheriff's race heats up in Rutherford Co.