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Jones wins Camden sheriff's primary by 6 votes

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Kevin Jones, who finished first in Tuesday's Republican primary for Camden sheriff, waves to voters outside the Camden County Public Library Tuesday afternoon.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

CAMDEN — State Trooper Kevin Jones de­feated Sher­iff Rod­ney Meads by a ra­zor-thin, six-vote mar­gin in Tues­day’s Repub­li­can pri­mary, tak­ing the first step to­ward fol­low­ing in his late fa­ther’s foot­steps as Cam­den sher­iff.

Also on Tuesday, incumbent Clerk of Court Paula Harris took her first step toward winning a third term, defeating Monique Chamblee, her challenger in the Democratic primary.

Jones, whose father Joe Jones served as Camden sheriff in the 1990s and early 2000s, collected 574 votes or just over 50 percent of all votes cast, according to unofficial returns. Meads garnered 568 votes or about 49.7 percent of the vote.    

Meads, who was appointed sheriff by Camden commissioners following the retirement of longtime Democratic Sheriff Tony Perry, won the early vote and absentee voting by 38 votes. However, Jones swept all three Camden precincts on election day on the way to his narrow victory.

Election officials in Camden said the margin in the sheriff’s race might be close enough for Meads to be able to call for a recount. There were three outstanding GOP absentee ballots and also the possibility of provisional ballots, which could figure into whether a recount is possible in the race, according to election officials.

Harrison, who first won election in 2010, collected 517 votes or 68 percent to Chamblee's 248 votes or 32 percent.

Jones will face Democrat Rick Trevena in the November general election. Harrison will face Republican Rhiana Srebro in November.

Illustrating just how close the election turned out to be, Camden Republican voters seemed split between the two candidates during interviews outside polling sites on Tuesday. 

A 32-year-old woman who voted a Republican ballot in South Mills said she voted for Meads because she has friends who are deputies and they said he was doing a good job.

“I believe they have a better sense of who would be a good sheriff because they’re deputies,” she said.

A 54-year-old man who cast a Republican ballot in Shiloh said he also opted for Meads.

“His Christian standpoint I appreciate,” he said, adding he knows both Meads and Jones and believes both are good men.

A 46-year-old man who voted in Shiloh selected Meads based on his experience.

“He has done an OK job,” he said.

Voting for Jones for sheriff was a 37-year-old man who cast his ballot in Shiloh.

“I know his whole family,” he said of Jones. “I’ve known Kevin my whole life.”

A 51-year-old woman who voted in the Courthouse precinct also cast her ballot for Jones.

“I think we need some new blood in our sheriff’s office,” she said.

In the race for Clerk of Superior Court, a 49-year-old woman who voted in the Courthouse precinct chose Chamblee,

“I like the years of experience she had at the clerk’s office,” she said. “She is active in the community. She is involved in a lot of organizations in the community. And I think a change is needed in the clerk’s office.”

But a 44-year-old man who voted in Shiloh opted for the incumbent, Harrison.

“I like her experience of being in the office,” he said. “I think she has done a good job so I see no reason to vote her out.”

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