By PAUL LORENZ
McLEANSBORO — Hamilton County voters said a decisive “no” to a public safety tax referendum Tuesday.
Also, Greg Brenner, the incumbent sheriff, won a three-way race in the Republican primary and will continue his campaign for a second term.
Brenner will face Democrat R.L. “Bob” Bryson, who also won a three-way primary race, in the general election in November.
Almost 60 percent of the voters — 1,403 to 938 — said “no” to the public safety referendum, which would have imposed a 1-percent sales tax to generate additional revenue for county services which deal with public safety, such as the sheriff’s department.
“The county board had promised us an extra deputy if it passed, and we’ll have to do without that,” Brenner said Tuesday night when it was clear the referendum had been defeated.
The sheriff’s department currently has two deputies in addition to four full-time and two part-time dispatchers.
“In December, the (county) offices will be facing some pretty hard decisions, some pretty deep budget cuts,” he said.
Brenner, a 23-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, won the Republican nomination for sheriff with 742 votes, about 57 percent. Jason Craddock, a sergeant with the McLeansboro Police Department, received 496 votes, about 38 percent. A third candidate, Quentin Sullivan, received 58 votes.
Bryson, who is an emergency medical technician and assistant chief with the McLeansboro Fire Department, said he felt relieved about winning the primary.
He collected 51 percent of the vote with 572. David Campbell, a lieutenant with the McLeansboro Police Department, had 428 votes (38 percent); Randy Bishop had 107 votes (10 percent).
Almost 41 percent of Hamilton County’s registered voters — 2,642 out of 6,515 — turned out for the primary election.
Brenner, the incumbent, said he felt pretty good about winning the primary.
“It was a pretty significant win, especially with a three-way race,” he said.
He said he hopes to have more time to campaign and meet people prior to the election in the fall.
“My opponents ran a good, clean race, no backstabbing,” Brenner said. “They ran on their own merits.”