JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Keith Sexton defeated two other candidates in the Republican primary for Washington County sheriff, virtually ensuring that he will continue to serve as the county’s top law enforcement officer. 

According to unofficial election results, Sexton won 70.5% of the vote to defeat both Leighta Laitinen and Michael Templeton.

No candidates filed to run as a Democrat or independent, meaning he will run unopposed in the August election. 

“I’m very happy and I’m so thankful to the citizens of Washington County that voted for me,” Sexton said. “I can’t say that enough.”

Photo: Washington County Sheriff Keith Sexton speaks with media after winning the May 3 Primary Election in a landslide victory. (WJHL)

“It’s just overwhelming and again I really didn’t expect this big a margin and I’m so very thankful for it.”

Sexton has been sheriff since November, when the county commission unanimously picked him over Laitinen and Templeton to fill the remainder of Ed Graybeal’s term. Graybeal retired from the sheriff’s office in August. 

In his retirement letter, Graybeal requested that Laitinen, his chief deputy, serve the remainder of his term. While the county commission ultimately went with Sexton, Laitinen did serve as acting sheriff until the commission could pick a replacement. 

When appointed sheriff, Sexton said his priority would be increasing patrol numbers to reduce crime and response times. 

Sexton has over 30 years of law enforcement experience and has worked for the sheriff’s office and Johnson City Police Department.

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