LAURINBURG — John Martin won the Democrat primary to become chief law enforcement officer of Scotland County.
Martin was elected with 1,862 votes — 53.4 percent — to Mitch Johnson’s 1,624 votes, according to unofficial results.
He will face incumbent Republican Sheriff Ralph Kersey in the fall.
“Oh man, it has been 14 long days and a 13-hour day today,” Martin said, “But I’m extremely, extemely happy. I want to thank everyone who came out and voted for a change.”
The 51-year-old Martin began his career in public service more than 35 years ago and retired as a Master Trooper with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. He also served as a deputy sheriff, firefighter and EMT.
If elected, Martin said he will develop a professional sheriff’s office with “highly trained and skilled law enforcement officers who believe in the continuous improvement of Scotland County.”
“I, along with the members of the sheriff’s office, will treat every citizen with dignity and respect,” Martin said. “We will work diligently with all federal, state and local agencies to seek out and bring to justice all criminals that prey on the youth and elderly of our community. We will make the safety and well-being of all citizens our priority.”
Martin is a member of the Laurinburg Masonic Lodge #305, the Laurinburg Rotary Club, Laurinburg/Scotland County Chamber of Commerce, and a past advisory board member of the State Employees’ Credit Union.
He has served as a youth baseball coach and as assistant scout master with the Boy Scouts of America.
Martin’s opponant in the Democratic primary was 52-year-old Mitch Johnson, who retired from the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office earlier this year after serving as a detention officer, deputy, civil office lieutenant, captain of patrol, chief deputy of operations and captain of support services. He also serves as pastor of JOY Ministries.
“I would like to commend Mitch Johnson on how well he ran his campaign,” Martin said. “It was clean and professional like I expected from him.”
Martin will now seek to unseat Kersey, who was first elected in 2014. Kersey served in the United States Marine Corps from 1979-1983 before joining the North Carolina Highway Patrol, where he retired in 2011.
He is a graduate of Scotland High School and attended the University of North Florida.
Scotland County sheriffs serve four-year terms and are responsible for the operation of the jail, law enforcement, providing security for courts, serving criminal warrants and other writs and summonses, and transporting prisoners.