Andy McCammon photo
Rob Gambill (center), flanked by wife Missy and incumbent Sheriff Mike Heaton, looks on as the final results of Tuesday's primary election are revealed. Gambill defeated Steve Bell for the Democratic sheriff's nomination in the Nov. 7 general election.
Rob Gambill narrowly defeated Steve Bell in Tuesday's Democratic Party primary election, clearing the first hurdle in his push to become Clay County's next sheriff.
Gambill, a 16-year veteran of the Clay County Sheriff's Department who ascended to the rank of Detective Sergeant in 2004, narrowly defeated longtime county corrections officer Bell to capture the Democratic nod for sheriff in the Nov. 7 general elections.
Gambill received 1,459 of the 2,785 votes cast in the sheriff's race, edging out Bell by 133 votes.
Gambill was flanked by his wife Missy, the county's chief 911 dispatcher, and Sheriff Mike Heaton as he watched the final returns scroll across a projection screen in Clay Circuit Court Chambers.
"I'm just kinda reeling after all this," he said after results from the last of the county's 23 voting precincts were reported. "I had an uphill battle."
Gambill's campaign centered on combating the county's methamphetamine epidemic and efficiently running the new $11 million Clay County Justice Center.
Bell echoed Gambill's stance on the methamphetamine problem and jail administration, but also advocated eliminating high-speed pursuits and limiting the use of the department's reserve deputies.
"I have no regrets," Bell said. "I had a good team. We worked hard, gave it our best shot and came up a little short."
"I congratulate Rob," he added. "He ran a good race."
Gambill will square off against Heaton and Independent candidate Larry Pierce, who served as Clay County Sheriff from 1990 to 1998, in the general elections this fall.
"The two guys I'm running against are two guys I've worked with for years and years, and I have nothing but respect for them," Gambill said. "Whatever happens, we're going to have a good sheriff no matter who comes out ahead."