After a tight race between McPherson Police Lt. Jerry Montagne and incumbent Larry Powell, it has been announced that Montagne has won the primary race for McPherson County Sheriff. Winner by 23 votes, Montagne will move on to the general elections. Powell has announced his intent to run as a write-in candidate in the general elections.
MCPHERSON COUNTY — The votes are in, but the race is still on.
After a recount of ballots and including provisional and partial ballots, the McPherson County Clerk's Office announced that Police Lt. Jerry Montagne came out ahead as the Republican candidate for county sheriff.
Montagne received 2,533 votes. Incumbent Sheriff Larry Powell received 2,510 votes.
However, Powell said Thursday morning he has no intention of throwing in the towel just yet.
"First, I want to thank my family, friends and supporters for their support," Powell said. "They have encouraged me to have a write-in campaign for the general election, and that's what I plan to do."
Because Montagne won the primary election, his name will appear on the November ballot. However, if Powell can convince enough people to write in his name, he could retain his post as sheriff.
"I've been around, and I've seen it work before. It can be done," Powell said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. It'll be a lot of work, but I'm not a quitter."
Montagne was on duty Thursday morning and could not be reached for comment.
Powell has been a law enforcement officer since 1971, joining the Hutchinson Police Department and following in the footsteps of his father. He joined the McPherson Police Department as a patrolman in 1972, and then moved to the McPherson County Sheriff’s Office in 1976 as a deputy sheriff. He worked his way through the ranks as a captain and then undersheriff, and in 1992 was elected sheriff of McPherson County.
Powell has implemented numerous anti-crime systems during his 24 years as sheriff, including the Drug Task Force, Drug Abuse Resistance Education or DARE program, Special Response Team and a K-9 unit — the last two being fully funded by donations. He also organized a volunteer squad of Reserve Sheriff Deputies in order to better protect and serve the residents of the county and their property.
Additionally, he established a fruit and vegetable garden maintained by and for county jail prisoners and started work release, Jumpstart and high school degree programs for inmates as well as a chaplain program that offers Sunday worship services as well as weekly Bible study classes in the jail.
Powell recently introduced immobilization technology to the sheriff’s office, equipping deputies with Tasers, non-lethal alternatives for use in subduing fleeing, belligerent or dangerous suspects, and video cameras to document deputy interactions with the public.
Montagne has been a law enforcement officer for 33 years, with 26 of those years spent with the McPherson Police Department. Prior to joining the McPherson police force, he was the senior deputy sheriff for the Nemaha County Sheriff's Office. He graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in 1983.
Montagne graduated from the U.S. Air Force Police Academy in 1982. He is also graduate from Western Iowa Tech with an Associate Degree in Police Science Technology, as well as a graduate of Bethany College in Lindsborg, where he received a Bachelor Degree in Sociology with a minor in Administration of Justice.
In 2015, he was selected Police Officer of the Year through the American Legion. In 2009, he was honored with Police Officer of the Year through the VFW, and for the last six years, he has been McPherson Sentinel's Readers Choice Police Officer of the Year.
He has been involved in the Kansas Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run for 20 years as well as, coordinator for Red Cross Battle of the Badges for the last four years.
Throughout his campaign, Montagne has stated that he wishes to bring new ideas to the sheriff's department. He said he has no plans to make immediate changes, though he would like to see more women serve as deputies in the future. He also said he would take steps to improve security at the county courthouse.
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