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Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry locks up re-election
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Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry locks up re-election

From the Election 2019: Full wrap-up of news and updated results from around the region and the state series

Incumbent gets 54% of the vote to turn back John Cassell and Jerry Farmer in a spirited race.

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Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry says he’s looking forward to serving the community for another four years.

Perry was re-elected Tuesday to his fifth term as sheriff with 54% of the votes, in a race that didn’t turn out to be all that close, with aggressive challenger John Cassell getting 41%, and Jerry Farmer lagging well behind.

Perry received 7,287 votes of the 25 county precincts; Cassell, 5,683; and Farmer, 625. There were six write-in candidates.

Both candidates celebrated over lavish buffet spreads with hordes of supporters, Perry at the HJDB Event Center in Bassett and Cassell at the Horsepasture Volunteer Fire Department.

“I’m just very thankful,” Perry said. “This is a good support from the community.”

He said he appreciated his “family, the officers and the people joined the campaigning ... and the people that voted for me.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in the next four years, and I’m up to the challenge. I want to serve the community.”

Meanwhile, in Horsepasture, the cheerful, noisy crowd in the fire department went silent as results started coming in shortly after 7 p.m. Cassell had not arrived yet.

The mood seemed to fall visibly as people reacted to the results from the first three precincts: Totals of 1,351 for Perry, 1,113 for Cassell and 71 for Farmer, still early in the reporting.

That was the moment Cassell walked through the door. He greeted his supporters with smiles and handshakes.

Cassell said the race was going “all right until I got here. It is a little bit depressing here. Some of it’s coming in.”

Farmer, who said he spent the evening at home following results, said, “I wish I would’ve done better. It is what it is.

“I wish Henry County could have made that change, but evidently they didn’t. People voted for the current sheriff, and that’s what they’re going to get.”

The race among the three had been contentious.

Perry was appointed interim sheriff in 2006, after former sheriff H. Frank Cassell (no relation to John Cassell) and several other former officers were indicted in federal court on charges they conspired to deal drugs. He has been reelected to full terms in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Farmer and Cassell have said that each, as sheriff, would have a school resource officer in each of the county’s schools. Cassell said he would secure grant funding for the posts. Perry said he likes the idea, but the county cannot afford it. Cassell has said he would implement headquarters for deputies at sites across the county.

All three have talked about drugs being a problem in the area and the importance of combating the problem, using different interpretations of statistics to illustrate their points.

Farmer was hired at the sheriff’s office in 1995 and served in various capacities, including in corrections, investigations, schools, internet crimes and search-and-rescue. He also has worked for the Virgnia Department of Corrections and Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority.

If he’s elected, Cassell has said, retired city police officer Marshall Thomas would be a major in Cassell’s administration, and retired Virginia State Policeman Dickie Byrd would be the chief deputy. Tommy T.J. Slaughter Jr. also has been promised a spot in his administration.

Cassell retired from the HCSO in 2017, after 15 years employment there. He has been lieutenant of professional standards and involved with staff education. He also worked at the Martinsville Sheriff’s Office from 1997 to 2002, including as Emergency Response Leader, and in security at Memorial Hospital before that.

Contributions to Perry’s campaign topped $24,000; Cassell received more than $20,000, and Farmer said he did not solicit any donations but rather paid between $1,500 to $2,000 himself, plus used some materials he purchased the previous time he ran for the office.

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

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