Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal was unopposed in Thursday's general election after defeating challenger Craig Ford by 12 votes in the Republican primary on May 6. (Becky Campbell/Johnson City Press)
On Friday, the day after officially being re-elected as sheriff of Washington County, Ed Graybeal was out in the rain picking up campaign signs.
“I want to get these out of people’s yards,” he said in a brief phone interview.
There was little chance Graybeal wouldn’t win his third full term. He was unopposed in the general election Thursday. Earlier this year, however, it wasn’t the same story. He narrowly squeezed by challenger Craig Ford in the Republican primary by just 13 votes.
Graybeal garnered 13,393 votes Thursday, which accounted for 97.44 percent of all votes cast. The other 2.56 percent — 352 votes — were write-in votes. The names of those written in have not been released, although it’s likely some would be Ford.
All that aside and with his campaign signs picked up, Graybeal is ready to get down to the business of running the sheriff’s office, including strategic planning, employee retention and community relations programs.
“We’re going to grow and keep working,” he said last week. “We want to continue focusing on our school resource officers and the classes we did with the teachers.”
He said if the sheriff’s office can get funding for three more SROs, there will be one officer assigned to each school in the county. That was a big push in recent years after several large-scale school-violence incidents across the country.
“We have put in our budget a pay raise for all our guys and gals and three more SRO positions for this upcoming budget year,” Graybeal said. The 2014-15 budget has not yet been approved, but Graybeal is confident the positions will be included.
The sheriff said there is no current plan to implement any new programs in the jail, but if the department becomes aware of something that would benefit inmates, he’s willing to consider it.
Currently there are nine programs offered to inmates, including educational classes, Project Hope, AA, a recovery group and a parenting group.
Graybeal also said the department will continue to seek non-matching grants to help with officer training and equipment costs as well as enforcement. The non-matching grants do not require local funding to supplement them.
Graybeal has served as sheriff since 2003, when he was appointed by the Washington County Commission to finish the term of then-sheriff Fred Phillips, who resigned to take a job as the state’s commissioner of safety.
He was first elected in the August 2004 general election, beating out two opponents. He beat out one challenger in the 2006 election and ran unopposed in 2010.
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