Philip Bradford and his daughter Claire Bradford right after Bradford makes an aceptance speech at Square Perk where he waited and watched for the results with friends and family members.
COVINGTON -- Philip Bradford is one step closer to fulfilling his lifelong dream and becoming Newton County's next sheriff.
Republican Bradford was declared the victor in Tuesday's General Primary with 5,165 votes, or 55.26 percent, trumping 4,182 votes, or 44.74 percent, garnered by opponent Bill Watterson.
"I'm ecstatic. I'm so happy words can't describe how I feel," Bradford said as he celebrated with family and friends Tuesday evening. "I want to first say thank you to all my family, friends, my team, my supporters, everybody who got out and worked so hard for me. I want to thank everyone for their confidence in me to give me this chance to stand for Newton County and I pledge and promise to make them proud."
Watterson was gracious in defeat, saying, "It is disappointing. We want to say congratulations to Philip and we wish him the best in the future."
Bradford said he and Bill had spoken since the vote was tabulated.
"He has told me that he was going to give me 100 percent support in moving forward," Bradford said. "I want to thank Bill for running a good race and for pledging his support going forward."
Bradford will go on to face incumbent Sheriff Ezell Brown in November who is seeking reelection for a second term.
"I am ready to move forward to November and am looking forward to that," he said. "The race I've run this far, I'm going to continue that same platform of taking a stand in Newton County and that's what I pledge to do."
In declaring his platform Bradford has called for a "new culture" in the Sheriff's Office, pledging to bring the agency up to higher standards than it's seen before. In a previous Citizen interview he explained that because he works with Covington Police Department, which enjoys national accreditation and meets the standards dictated by the national Commission on Accreditation in Law Enforcement Agencies, he is accustomed to meeting those high standards.
"I came up in a culture totally different than the other two candidates came up in. It's that type of training and culture I want to bring to the Sheriff's Office," he said. "It's second nature to me."
He praised the men and women who work with the Sheriff's Office and said he is looking forward to working more closely with them.
"Those are good people who work for the Sheriff's Office and they know their job and they know what to do. I'm going to need those people to continue working just like that have been, but we may need to refocus on how we work," he said.
Bradford presently serves as a captain over the criminal investigation division with the Covington Police Department, where he has been employed since he graduated high school 26 years ago. At 18 he was a jailer with the CPD and when he turned 20 he became a patrol officer.
He has worked up through the ranks and in 1995 he was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration's Task Force in Atlanta where it was soon discovered that he had knack for working drug cases. In 1998, he was back at CPD and he implemented the VIPER Unit, a street-level response unit to drug use and trafficking in the city. In 2005 he was named commander of the East Metro Drug Enforcement Team, a tri-county drug unit. Due to diminishing federal grants that kept EMDET going, the unit disbanded in 2007 and Bradford was named commander of the Special Investigations Unit, a combined effort of the CPD and the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
Bradford is married to Dalleen and they have three children. He is a deacon at Newton Baptist Church and works with the youth ministry. His parents are Newton County residents Herman and Maggie Bradford.
In the race for Superior Court judge, incumbent Superior Court Judge John Ott pulled out a victory over first-time contender and Covington attorney Stephanie R. Lindsey. Voters in both Walton and Newton counties gave the Alcovy Judicial Circuit Judge Ott the nod. In Walton County he received 66.10 percent of the vote, or 9,700 votes, and 55.68 percent on 8.731 votes in Newton. His opponent Lindsey received 33.85 percent of the vote in Walton, or 4,968 votes, and 44.28 percent, or 6,943 votes in Newton.
"I'm very humbled and happy with the victory." Ott said Tuesday night. "I commend my opponent Ms. Lindsey for running a real good race, and I'm just glad it turned out for me the way it did. I enjoyed the campaign getting out and seeing some old friends and making new friends."
Ott did comment, however, that he had not had an easy time campaigning.
"It's been a very challenging summer with a torn Achilles tendon and campaigning at the same time," he said.
Ott, 57, was elected district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit in 1985, remaining until he was appointed judge in 1990 to fill the unexpired term of retiring Judge Greely Ellis. He has retained his position of judge since that time and was appointed chief judge following the retirement of Chief Judge Marvin Sorrells in late 2004.
He has handled more than 40,000 cases since taking office in 1990 and more than 500 jury trials.
He is married to Lisa Linger and has a daughter and a stepson.