ELECTION 2022: Chief deputy wins primary race for sheriff

Brown County Sheriff Scott Southerland, sheriff candidate Brad Stogsdill and Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams sit together at the Brown County Republican Party primary return on election night.

Abigail Youmans | The Democrat

With no Democratic or independent candidates on the ballot so far the race for sheriff happened on the Republican ballot this primary election.

After results flowed in on election night, Republican Brad Stogsdill was named the winner.

Serving as sheriff has been a personal career goal for Stogsdill since his career in law enforcement began 33 years ago. His time in law enforcement allowed him to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the sheriff’s department “at the highest level,” he said earlier this spring.

Stogsdill is the current chief deputy at the sheriff’s department, second in command to the sheriff. Current Sheriff Scott Southerland endorsed Stogsdill ahead of the primary.

“I trusted Brad when I appointed him as my chief deputy and I trust him to continue moving forward,” Southerland said of his endorsement.

“I believe he has learned the job well and will lead with integrity and honor.”

Southerland added that over the past several years he has watched Stogsdill “mature and grow.”

“He has a strong respect for the traditions of the office of the sheriff while embracing change that leads to improvement,” he said.

“I have confidence that Brad will be a great asset to the sheriff’s office and the people of Brown County.”

Despite the support from his boss and others in the community, Stogsdill said he was a “nervous wreck” all day on May 3.

Stogsdill had been campaigning since the Brown County Fair last summer where a number of candidates announced their intentions to run for sheriff and other local offices.

“It was a huge relief to see it was going in my favor. It was just a huge relief,” he said of the election results.

“It felt like an anvil was lifted off my chest.”

Stogsdill said he was “overwhelmed” with support he received both inside and outside of the poll booths.

“It was overwhelming, I don’t really have words for it,” he said the day after the election.

Making connections on social media was a large part of Stogsdill’s campaign along with going door-to-door campaigning. Stogsdill had been knocking on doors and getting to know residents at their homes three or four nights a week since October.

“I might have had seven days combined that I didn’t campaign since Christmas,” he said.

A lot of his friends, family and loved ones worked hard on his behalf, too. He said he was also able to build new relationships and foundations in the community he’s known his whole life.

While on the campaign trail, Stogsdill said he gathered “countless” stories from people he met that he’ll likely be friends with forever. Making new friends and memories was something Stogsdill hoped would happen while working to become sheriff.

With campaigning behind him and more free time in his future, Stogsdill said he will now be able to spend some more time doing what he loves: fishing and hunting.

He and a friend won a fishing competition this spring named after his father, former Sheriff Robert “Buck” Stogsdill, who was elected as sheriff in 2003 and served two terms.

He passed away in May of 2011.

“It’s been an amazing spring for me,” Stogsdill said.

Stogsdill was not the only Republican candidate — or sheriff’s department employee — vying to be the county’s next sheriff. Sgt. Chad Williams and Deputy Scott Bowling also campaigned to be the next leader of the department.

Once results were tallied on election night, Stogsdill had 1,486 votes, Williams received 870 and Bowling ended up with 226 votes.

Following the election, Stogsdill said he appreciates Bowling and Williams. He said that it was a “hard fought race” on all sides.

Before results were officially in, but nearing the final count, Williams said his mind was “going 100 miles an hour” on election night.

He sat at a table at the Republican Party primary election return party with his family as results rolled in.

“This is my first time running, it’s all a new experience,” he said.

Williams said the decision to run for sheriff meant hard work and sacrifices for his family.

“Their support and love for our community made this decision possible,” he said of his family and supporters.

Becoming sheriff of Brown County has been his goal for the last 15 years.

Williams said he could not thank his supporters enough for their help during the “long campaign,” which started in July last year at the fair.

The best part of the campaign to Williams was meeting people while out knocking on doors throughout the county.

“There’s great people in Brown County,” he said. “Thank you for your support. We’ll see what the future holds.”

Bowling could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Earlier this year, Bowling answered questions from the League of Women Voters of Brown County about his experience and why he wanted to be the next sheriff.

“I want to keep Brown County safe for us to raise our families,” he said in his response. “I have two young children and I want them to grow up in a safe community as I did. It has always been a dream of mine to end my career as sheriff of this great community.”

Bowling has 22 years of law enforcement experience serving in Brown County.

He said in March he understands what the people living in the county value and concerns they may have.

Running against co-workers was not an easy task, since they are not just colleagues, but friends, Stogsdill said.

“It wasn’t easy and it was hard on our sheriff’s office — we’re all friends, we’re all family. We will get past it. Any fences that need mending will be mended,” he said.

While reflecting on winning the election, Stogsdill said he did not want losing the bid for sheriff to be the end to his story.

“I grew up here, I love this community, I love my job,” he said. “I’m looking forward to opportunity to serve as sheriff.”