With 98% of precincts reporting, incumbent Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden easily overcame his two Democratic challengers in the primary Tuesday.
The election results are unofficial until certified. Late Tuesday, McFadden led Aujiena (Gina) Hicks by 8,700 votes. Candidate Marquis Robinson trailed far behind. McFadden had about 51% of the vote to Hicks’ 38%.
Because there is no Republican in the race, the primary winner will become the county’s next sheriff.
Hicks told The Charlotte Observer she “will continue to fight.”
“We will continue to bring recognition to all the things that’s going on at the sheriff’s office,” Hicks said. “It’s disheartening that people can’t see that it is unsafe.”
Hicks said she is glad to have helped bring recognition to “unsafe” conditions within the jail.
“I don’t know what it is that we have to do for the community to understand that this is not leadership. And it is not safe for the employees and the staff members. And you need to get someone in there that is competent enough to run it,” Hicks said.
Robinson said it was an honor to run for the office, and he respects the decision made by the citizens.
McFadden declined to comment when reached Tuesday night by The Charlotte Observer.
Challenges ahead for Sheriff’s Office
Recently, the uptown jail has come under scrutiny, and state records assert its staffing shortage has created unsafe conditions.
Over recent months, McFadden pledged to correct issues following critical state inspection reports but has been challenged over staffing levels and reducing the number of people housed in the jail.
In March, The Charlotte Observer reported that federal officials would relocate dozens of inmates from the Mecklenburg facility — a move that would cost the county millions of dollars in reimbursements.
Six people have died in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center over the past year. In three cases, the state determined the jail violated safety precautions, including having inadequate staff levels.
In March, ahead of the deadline put forth by the state, McFadden outlined his plan to bring the jail back into compliance with safety and staffing guidelines. He said his office is working on recruitment and retention efforts. In the meantime, private security has been hired to help make up the difference.
Running the detention center — the largest of its kind in the state — is one of the Mecklenburg’s sheriff’s main duties. Bringing it back into safety and staffing compliance will be one of the sheriff’s main challenges moving forward.