The runoff election saw Underwood garner 4,879 votes to Poe’s 3,355.
This total does not reflect the provisional ballots and will not be official until it is certified.
Underwood said he was pleased with the results and grateful to the voters who chose him, as well as those who assisted with his campaign, thanking the voters who he believes are ready for a change in the sheriff department.
“I thank my wife, my family and friends, and, most of all, the Lord Jesus Christ for leading and directing me in this campaign and making it possible for this win,” Underwood said. “I’ll assure the voters that we will always do what’s right and just if I’m elected as their sheriff.”
Underwood said he and his wife would be taking a little break from campaigning, before gearing up for the next leg of this election.
“It has been a tiring race for the last three months against seven candidates at the start, and against a good opponent, Mr. J.C. Poe. He was a qualified and quality opponent. and the voters had to make a choice of who they thought would make the changes needed at the sheriff’s department ... ” Underwood said. He said he believed his religious beliefs, experience, education and the fact that he had never been employed by the sheriff’s office all played a pivotal role in the election.
Poe conceded to Underwood before thanking his voters and recognizing those who had assisted in his campaign and, especially his wife, Patty.
He also called it an “exhausting race” and said he was eager to see what God has in store for him going forward. Poe will finish his term as coroner and will remain the police chief at Bevill State Community College.
Underwood will now face Democrat Mike Cole in the November general election.
Cole said he and Underwood had similar years of experience, but a number of philosophical differences on how the sheriff’s office should be ran. He hopes to be able to have debates or other public forums to be able to encourage dialog and allow voters to choose the candidate they feel is best suited for the job.
“I think the folks will have an opportunity between now and November to hear our ways of handling the problems of Walker County and the sheriff’s office so they can make a good, sound decision in November,” Cole said.
A total of 8,264 ballots were cast Tuesday, representing approximately 19 percent of Walker County’s registered voters and far exceeding statewide predictions of a 5 percent turnout.
In the statewide elections, Walker County chose John Merrill for Secretary of State over Reese McKinney by a margin of 4,136 to 3,011. Jim Zeigler received 4,664 votes for State Auditor in Walker County to Dale Peterson’s 2,597. Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. carried Walker County for the Public Service Commission, Place 2 seat with 4,153 to Terry Dunn’s 3,021.