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Horch likely winner for Clark County Sheriff

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Clark County voters appear to have chosen John Horch as their next sheriff, according to preliminary results Tuesday night.

Jorge hugged his wife in a side room before announcing to a packed Red Cross building at the Fort Vancouver National Center that he had won 59.62 percent of the votes counted Tuesday night.

Ray Reynolds, who is a corporal with the Vancouver Police Department, had 40.38 percent of the count Tuesday night.

Horch continued to hug the family along with two of his biggest supporters, current Sheriff Chuck Atkins and retired Sheriff Harry Lucas. When they were both on either side of him, Horch said into the room, “Hey, look at this: there are three sheriffs.”

But Reynolds didn’t sulk during a meeting with several Republican candidates at the RV Inn Style Convention Center. He said he expected him to trail Jorge in the first round of results because many of his supporters did not vote until Monday or Tuesday.

The initial voter turnout was 36.37 percent.

In one of the most contentious Clark County sheriff’s races in recent memory, Jorge was named the heir to the role after Atkins announced he would not seek re-election. In 2019, Atkins appointed Horch to oversee the agency’s law enforcement division as chief deputy for criminal affairs. Horch worked for the sheriff’s office for 33 years.

Reynolds, touting his 38 years of law enforcement experience, hoped to convince voters that he was the fresh perspective the sheriff’s office needed. During his election campaign, he attributed the region’s rising crime rate and low staffing levels to Horch’s leadership.

Reynolds said he’s looking forward to seeing his deficit shrink as more ballots are processed throughout the week. After all the votes were counted, he said Tuesday night that he was still waiting to become Clark County’s next sheriff.

Horch acknowledged that the results would change and said he would reserve a big victory speech for when the results become more concrete. But he said he felt good about his advantage, which was more than he had allowed himself to hope for.

“I am very excited and very honored by the first results,” Horch said. “A lot of hard work has gone into this. I want to reach out and congratulate Ray on a great race. He also made me a better candidate and I want us to get together now. I know politics, people get involved and emotions, but I think it’s time to say, hey, we’re about public safety. And I hope he is, too, and I believe he will be.”

Reynolds said that if Jorge did win, he would call him and ask how he could help. And he expects Horch to do the same if the final results flip.

“It’s important to me to know that we’re going to do a lot more,” Reynolds said. “And when I’m sheriff, we’re going to do a tremendous job to restore our safety, restore the joy of life to Clark County.”

Horch said he’s looking forward to doing the work he’s been talking about for the past two years and getting back to fully focusing on the job instead of dividing his time between campaigning.

Jorge also called his brother, who lives on the East Coast and stayed up late to hear the results.

Horch and Reynolds defeated a third candidate, David Schuck, in the August primary to advance to Tuesday’s general election. Schuck has since been appointed to run the Clark County Jail, a previously controversial issue during the campaign.

The sheriff will be tasked with implementing a body camera program, increasing the agency’s staff and combating a public perception of a lack of security.

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