Unicoi County sheriff gains victory over two foes

Brad Hicks • May 6, 2014 at 11:16 PM

ERWIN — Incumbent Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley bested a familiar opponent and a new one in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Hensley received 2,236 votes, which represents 53.66 percent of the total vote, for the office of Unicoi County sheriff, according to unofficial totals. He was challenged by James Lengel and Tony Buchanan. Lengel received 1,032 votes, which made up 24.77 percent of the vote, and Buchanan received 897 votes, which represented 21.53 percent of the total vote.

A total of 4,167 votes were cast in the race for Unicoi county sheriff, according to unofficial totals.

“I appreciate the citizens of this county putting their trust and confidence in me,” Hensley said Tuesday evening. “I’ve been an officer in this county for over 27 years, and I’ve dedicated my life to law enforcement in Unicoi County. It’s an honor to receive the votes that I received and for the citizens to put their trust and confidence in me.”

Hensley has served as the county’s sheriff since March 2012, when he was appointed by the Unicoi County Commission to serve as interim sheriff following the resignation of former sheriff Kent Harris. In the August 2012 general election, Hensley was elected over Lengel, who also vied for the commission’s interim appointment to fill the remainder of Harris’ unexpired term.

Hensley’s more than 25 years of law enforcement experience include working in various capacities at the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department. He has previously worked as a dispatcher and jailer, later earning the rank of captain while working as a patrol office. Hensley was later promoted to investigator, and he was eventually promoted to captain of the UCSD’s Criminal Investigations division. He served as chief deputy of the sheriff’s department prior to his appointment to the office of sheriff.

Over the next four years, Hensley said his primary goal will be what it has been since he began his stint as sheriff — to keep the citizens of Unicoi County safe. He also said his department will continue to implement ideas and utilize resources to keep the burden off of county taxpayers.

Hensley is unopposed in this August’s general election. He said the sheriff’s department has accomplished much in the past two years, and it will continue with its accomplishments in the next four years.

“We have had a long and rough road to travel,” Hensley said. “I’ve had a lot on my plate the last two years. ... We’ve had a lot of challenges that we’ve had to deal with, and we’ve done that. I can’t say enough about the men and women that works for my department. They’re outstanding people and they’re professional officers.

“I feel if we can do what we’ve done the last two years over the next four, I don’t think it will be as rough as the past two years. We got a lot of things accomplished that we absolutely had to do, we didn’t have a choice in the matter. We’ve crossed those hurdles and, hopefully, it won’t be as rough a four years as we’ve had the last two years.”

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