Thursday, June 30, 2016
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Jim Weir thanks a supporter Tuesday night after winning the Grady County Sheriff Republican primary. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)
By Jeff Harrison
Managing Editor

CHICKASHA – Jim Weir celebrated his 60th birthday Monday night. On Tuesday night, he got to open one more present.

The former Grady County undersheriff defeated incumbent sheriff Art Kell in the Republican primary Tuesday. Weir received 52.95 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Jeff Franklin and Independent Charles Birchill in the general election Nov. 6.

Weir defeated Kell 1,623 to 1,442, according to the county election board’s unofficial tally.

The Tuttle Republican watched returns trickle in Tuesday night inside a packed private room at Yesteryear’s 50s Diner in Chickasha. Supporters kept close watch on the results and by about 8:30 p.m. they declared victory.
Weir thanked his supporters as they cleared out. He credited the primary win to hard work on the campaign trail and his experience as a lawman.

“We went door to door and talked to a lot of people,” he said. “And I told them about my experience and pointed out that we have gone through too many people. We’ve lost some good deputies.”

Kell was elected Grady County Sheriff in 2008 when he defeated incumbent Kieran McMullen. He later named Weir undersheriff. The arraignment lasted about two years. During that time, Weir said the department lacked the professionalism seen in other agencies, while Kell said his undersheriff tried to drive a wedge between him and the deputies.

“After he let me go without cause I was told I had two choices,” Weir said. “I could go ahead walk away and let him have it, but I didn’t think that was in the best interest of the community so I decided to run.”

After the defeat, Kell thanked his supporters and county residents.

“I want to congratulate Jim Weir on hard fought campaign and thank all the supporters who have been with me these four years,” Kell said. “And I appreciate the Grady County residents for allowing me to serve them these past four years.”

Kell said he was encouraged by recent polling in the area.

“We did some polling right up until the end and felt real comfortable with the results, unfortunately those people did not vote,” he said.

With the election loss, Kell was also forced to close the department’s north annex in Tuttle. The building was leased annually, and the current contract expires Saturday.

“We have to renew the lease every June 30, and since I wasn’t reelected we can’t sign anymore contracts,” Kell said. “We’ll move everyone back to the Chickasha office, but I plan to still visit the northern part of the county. I enjoy the friendships I’ve made with people un in the Tuttle, Bridge Creek and Minco area.”

The Democrat race was not as close. Franklin advanced to the general election with 56 percent of the vote. He defeated former deputy sheriff Delmer Barthelme by a vote of 837 to 665.

“I’m really pleased with the way it turned out and appreciate all the people that came out and supported me,” Franklin said. “You never know how things are going to go until the day hits. I just hope they continue to turn out again in the general election.”

Barthelme gathered with supporters at the Elks Lodge in Chickasha. He said he was stunned by the loss.
Weir said he expects another election night victory in November.

“Jeff Franklin is a nice guy but I don’t think his experience matches mine,” Weir said. “And as far as the politics of it. I was told tonight the Republicans outvoted the Democrats three to one. So he’s going to have to do a whole lot of work to change those Republicans minds. And I don’t think he’ll be able to do that.”

Franklin said he’s ready for a tough fight and encourages voters to look past the political parties.

“I just hope people don’t just vote Democrat or Republican, but instead look for the candidate that will do the best job.  I’m not a politician. I’m just a working guy.”

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