Mount Airy native Steve Hiatt has won the Republican primary for Surry County sheriff in a four-man race.
Hiatt, 54, is a graduate of Mount Airy High School and Surry Community College.
He served 28 years at the sheriff’s office under Bill Hall, Connie Watson and Graham Atkinson.
In 2006 Hiatt ran against Atkinson for sheriff. He won 14 of 33 precincts and earned 7,520 votes, but lost as Atkinson got 8,808 votes (54 percent).
This year he took on former coworker Jamie Goad, who worked at the sheriff’s office with Hiatt for more than 15 years, and Vann Tate, a retired Highway Patrol officer who also spent some years at the Mount Airy Police Department.
On Tuesday, when early voting results were announced, Hiatt took the lead out of the starting blocks with 879 votes, Jamie Goad at 744 votes, Vann Tate 623 votes, and contractor Ervin Odum at 151.
From there Hiatt steadily built that lead, winning precinct after precinct as the results were announced by the Surry County Board of Elections.
After four precincts were announced, he held nearly a 200-vote lead. After eight precincts, the lead was 300.
Near the end, the results dramatically stopped at 25 of 29 precincts with Hiatt leading in 19 locations. Odum had won his home territory of Rockford. Tate dominated in the two regions near his home of Pine Ridge and Round Peak/Beulah. Goad took precincts 15, 23 and 28 (Flat Rock, Shoals, Holly Springs/South Westfield).
About 40 minutes later, the last four precincts popped up on the website, showing that Hiatt took 39 percent of the vote, followed by Tate at 27.8 percent, Goad at 26.9 percent and Odum at 6.3 percent.
Hiatt will now represent the Republican party in the November election against current Sheriff Jimmy Combs, who was appointed to the post a year ago.
Combs, a 30-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, served as chief deputy under both Watson and Atkinson and was hand-picked by Atkinson to be his successor in February 2017.
Hiatt said he ran around to several precincts during the day Tuesday, trying to visit as many places as possible. Then he followed the results with his family while having dinner at the Barn at Blueberry Hill in Elkin.
“I want to thank my family,” he said. “We are pretty close knit. They’ve been behind me all the way. They have been a fantastic campaign committee.”
“Congratulations to Steve,” offered Goad in a phone call. “I hope everything goes well for him. I hope in November we can switch politics and get a Republican sheriff after 23 years.”
Hiatt said that Tate and Goad have been his close friends for years.
“I do appreciate the clean campaign — as far as I’m concerned,” Hiatt said. “We had a very positive, clean campaign. … Politics aside, our friendships have remained strong even though it’s been a long campaign since Graham announced his retirement 14, 15 months ago.”
While things might have been clean for Hiatt, Goad saw his character called into question.
“I’ll just say one candidate threw a lot of junk at us,” said Goad. “We took it like a champ and never threw any mud. I probably had some supporters who did, but I can’t control that.”
At 44, Goad is the youngest of the four candidates, but that doesn’t mean he’s thinking about running in four years.
“I wanted to give it a shot, but I don’t know if I’d be willing to try it again,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason.” He said he seems to be doing well for himself the past three years with his own business, so maybe that’s where he was meant to stay.
Hiatt said he hopes that Goad and Tate will throw their support behind him for the fall.
“My team is ready and eager to campaign,” he said. “They are excited about the November election. We’re ready to move forward.”
For those who haven’t met him yet, Hiatt said he feels he is well qualified for the job of sheriff for because of his many years of experience as a law enforcement officer.
“I started at the age of 20, served continuously for 28 years,” he said. “The last six years I’ve been a reserve deputy, maintaining all my state-mandated training.” He also has worked at Northern Hospital of Surry County in security.
“I believe we can move forward and make Surry County better.“
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.