Early Voting Up In Benton County Sheriff Runoff

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) - The final day of early voting in the Benton County Sheriff runoff election wrapped up with high voter turnout.

With only one spot open for the Republican nomination, it's down to Shawn Holloway, a major with the Benton County Sheriff's Office, and Paul Pillaro, a lieutenant at the Lowell Police Department. The winner will go on to face independent Glenn Latham in the November election.

On Super Tuesday (March 1), Holloway walked away with 49 percent of the vote, which prompted a runoff race to replace current Republican Sheriff Kelley Cradduck.

That momentum is what Holloway said he hopes carries him to the finish line with a win on Tuesday (March 22).

"We just hope that we have a good voter turnout," said Holloway. "The people who supported me, I just hope they come back out and vote for me one more time."

Pillaro finished second, besting Cradduck by less than 200 votes.

"It was a disappointing a little bit with the numbers," said Pillaro. "But I feel pretty good about this runoff."

The Lowell lieutenant credited his small-town experience as what will help him reshape the image of a department struggling with negative attention.

"I plan on continuing to do what I do at Lowell," said Pillaro. "And that's get out and meeting with the public, spending time with the public, and showing the public what we do."

Holloway said he hoped to do the same thing. He called for more involvement from deputies in the rapidly growing county.

"Focusing more on community policing and getting out in the community and hearing the problems," said Holloway. "There's also the serving aspect and we have to get back to serving."

With the general election looming, Holloway said he's focused on securing the nomination before releasing a complete strategy to win the top spot in November.

"We'll get past this one first before I start evaluating that. Obviously we'll take a little time off," said Holloway. "It's been a long five months leading up to tomorrow, and we will regroup after that."

Pillaro said if he wins, he'd continue to spread his message like he said he had during the election.

"I've been out getting to meet the people, knocking on doors, making phone calls, letting the people know what my message is," Pillaro said.

Turnout in early voting was higher than usual, according to Tena O'Brien, county clerk for Benton County.

She said about 2,200 early ballots had been cast by early Monday (March 21), and expected another 500 by the time the clerks office closed.

"It's a high profile race. A lot of folks are interested in the sheriff's race because those folks are to protect and serve the citizens of Benton County, all of Benton County," said O'Brien. "So it's very vital to the citizens in our area."

O'Brien stated that turnout is often double early voting numbers, and her office anticipated that this will be the largest runoff election turnout since 2010.