Lemaster, Shirley win sheriff races in Panhandle

November 05, 2008

EASTERN PANHANDLE - Democrat Bobby Shirley soundly defeated Republican Jay Watson for Jefferson County Sheriff in Tuesday's election, pulling ahead of Watson by a nearly 4,000 vote spread in vote tabulations Tuesday night, according to complete, unofficial returns.

With all 31 precincts reporting, Shirley received 12,647 votes compared to the 8,653 votes going to Watson, according to returns.

Shirley, 57, of 567 Hidden Hollow Drive, Kearneysville and Watson, 54, of 505 S. Mildred St., Ranson, had different approaches in how to run the sheriff's department.

Shirley said he was concerned about continuous gang crime activity in the county and said he wanted more pressure on the problem before it manifests itself here.

Shirley was also sensitive to periodic crime problems on the Blue Ridge Mountain and wanted to more heavily staff a law enforcement substation on the mountain to beef-up a police presence there.


The four-year term job pays $44,480 a year although the pay can increase up to another $15,000 depending on how much delinquent property taxes a sheriff can collect.

  • Berkeley County's next sheriff will be a longtime member of the department, according to complete, but unofficial, results released by County Clerk John W. Small Jr.'s office Tuesday night.

    Sheriff's Department chief deputy Kenneth M. "Kenny" Lemaster Jr., 52, of Martinsburg received 53.8 percent of 35,754 ballots cast in the race and Carlton R. "Cootsie" DeHaven received 46 percent, according to Small's office.

    The Berkeley County sheriff is elected to a four-year term and receives a salary of $44,880. Lemaster will succeed Sheriff W. Randy Smith, who could not run again after serving two terms because of term limits.

    Lemaster said he worked at the department for 31 years of experience, including eight as chief deputy. Last month, his campaign treasurer reported that he had spent $19,407 on his election this year. DeHaven, 57, who was not opposed in the Republican Party's primary, reported spending $11,423.

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