A day after being defeated by John Darr in Tuesday's race for Muscogee County Sheriff, incumbent Ralph Johnson said he was disappointed by the outcome but proud of what he's achieved during his nine years in office.
"You know, I'm just trying to find the words to describe it," Johnson said on Wednesday. "I feel like I've done a lot for this city and I'm real proud of what we've achieved. I'm disappointed, but that's part of democracy. The citizens have spoken and that's the great thing about the United States."
Darr won 56.9 percent of the vote to Johnson's 42.6 percent and had 18,000 more votes than Johnson after absentee ballots were added to the precinct tallies from across the county. Write-in candidate Mark LaJoye received less than a half percent of the vote.
Johnson's loss came despite his efforts to explain his actions in the aftermath of the December 2003 shooting death of Kenny Walker, who was killed by a Muscogee County Sheriff's deputy during a drug investigation. The sheriff said he does not regret his decision to disclose the facts in the case. "I think that the public needed to hear that," he said.
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Johnson said he'll take some time off to be with his family after Jan. 1. Until then he and his staff will continue to do their jobs.
"I've got some fine people that work in this agency and I'm proud of them and I just tell them to keep their chins up," Johnson said.
A 26-year Sheriff's Office veteran, Johnson won a special election in November 1999 to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Gene Hodge. He was re-elected sheriff of Muscogee County in 2000.
Darr was born at Fort Benning in 1966. After graduating from Hardaway High School in 1984, he earned his associate's degree at Columbus State University. In 1988, Darr joined the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, where he worked for 20 years before retiring to focus on his campaign for Muscogee County Sheriff.
"I wish him the best of luck," Johnson said of Darr.