GREENCASTLE -- Tuesday's election results showed that Steve Fenwick will retain his position as Putnam County Sheriff.
Early returns from the polls showed that the Republican candidate would win against Independent candidate Joe Tesmer and Democratic candidate Garry Clark.
After the first 15 precinct totals were read, Fenwick had 2,705 votes and held a 1,542-vote lead over Tesmer. Clark had 920 votes, trailing Fenwick by 1,785.
By the time all results were read just after 8 p.m., Fenwick won the election, receiving 57.4 percent of the vote with 5,765 votes against Tesmer's 2,422 and Clark's 1,854. Clark received 18.46 percent of the vote while Tesmer took 24.12 percent.
"I just felt that we were the best people for the position, with our experiences and the knowledge of the Sheriff's Department and the jail both," Fenwick said. "My opponents' leader had none of that."
Fenwick won all 31 precincts in the county, and said he was most surprised with the returns from all three Cloverdale districts, winning 636 votes compared to Tesmer's 297 and Clark's 202.
"I would never have suspected that it would have been by those totals," he said.
As far as his connection with voters, Fenwick pointed to the county's confidence in his prior experience as sheriff for leading his campaign. He credited his experience and knowledge of the job for his re-election and thanked all who supported him during the race.
"I've been here for 30 years and I'm a familiar face," he said. "I've been around a long time."
Fenwick was appointed to the sheriff's position in September 2008 as the replacement to Mark Frisbie, who resigned in August 2008 after Frisbie pled guilty to charges of felony federal program theft in U.S. District Court that year.
Fenwick began his career with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department in 1981 as a jail officer and road deputy, also serving as the department's lieutenant colonel jail commander since January 2003.
He also spent time working as a university police officer at DePauw University and the town marshal of Fillmore. He was named Deputy of the Year in 1999 for excellence in combating anti-social behavior and reducing crime in the community.
Prior to Election Day, Fenwick has spoken out about what he said continues to be the most significant law enforcement issue facing the county: drugs.
Fenwick said he planned "to continue to give the county good coverage it has already been receiving."
"We're going to try to work on this drug problem also," he said.
Tesmer, who has served as the Putnam County Sheriff's Department as a reserve and merit deputy, said while he was disappointed with the outcome of the election, he knew the competition against the Republican party would be stiff.
"I knew going into the race it was going to be tough against the Republican party, but for an Independent never having run for sheriff before, I'm pretty proud of what I did," he said.
While Tesmer said he doesn't know what the future holds for his law enforcement career, he said he has no plans to run for sheriff in the next election.
"I wanted to try to keep the Sheriff's Department neutral and not show favoritism toward either party, Republican or Democrat," he said.
Even with his loss in the general election, Tesmer gave credit to the Independent ticket for winning against the Democrats in the sheriff's race.
"As I looked up on the board everyone else who was an independent, I did better number-wise than the rest of them," he said.
Democratic candidate Garry Clark said he enjoyed speaking with people during the campaign and offered "unprecedented openness."
"I enjoyed myself while offering solutions for the theft, hiding evidence, and shooting negligence of our past," he said.
Clark said he was pleased with the voter turnout while seeing much hope for the future.
"With the high voter turnout, it is conceivable that citizens will begin demanding government to publish financial records and other public records on the Internet with men like Sheriff Frisbie realizing their mischief will end soon," he said. "That is not a bad ending."