'A gratifying experience'Scott McNurlin edged out Red Wing police force veteran Marty Kelly in a tight race that had supporters of both candidates at the edge of their seats into the early hours of the morning.
As Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers' chief deputy, Scott McNurlin has long sought to take over the office upon the sheriff's retirement.
On Tuesday night, he finally got his wish.
McNurlin edged out Red Wing police force veteran Marty Kelly in a tight race that had supporters of both candidates at the edge of their seats into the early hours of the morning.
"I can say that this is a very gratifying experience," said McNurlin, a 27-year veteran of Goodhue County law enforcement.
With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, McNurlin had garnered 9,918 votes compared to the 8,740 votes won by Kelly.
Like the campaign signs for both candidates, support for both was spread evenly across the county, with McNurlin leading slightly in most precincts.
Some areas, however, were notably lopsided in favor of one candidate.
The city of Cannon Falls and Cannon Falls Township pulled heavily for McNurlin, who led by a total of 713 votes across all three districts.
Kelly put forward his strongest showing in the city of Kenyon, where 521 voters opted for him and just 192 pulled for McNurlin.
McNurlin said he was not surprised by the close results.
"History always indicates that when you have an open seat, it's going to be close," he said.
McNurlin credited his victory to experience in county law enforcement and long days spent in the county knocking on doors. He estimated that he had visited thousands of homes during the course of the campaign.
"It was tough at first," he said of the door-to-door visits, "but then it got fun. I looked forward to it."
Reached by phone after the final results came in Tuesday, Kelly said he was not disappointed by his loss, but gratified by the support he received.
He said his message of strengthening county law enforcement in rural areas had resonated with voters, but not enough to nudge his campaign to victory.
"This was a pretty eye opening experience," he said.
Asked about a recent tiff with the county sheriff over allegations that the sheriff's office had covered up a sexual relationship between a female jailer and inmate, Kelly said "we have to move on."
He said the disagreement left him with no ill will toward McNurlin, though he expressed hope that the sheriff's office would continue to investigate the matter.
"I clearly wish Scott well," he said.
@Sub heads: Next steps
@Normal1: McNurlin said Tuesday that the first step of his tenure as county sheriff will be guiding the office through the "transitionary process" of naming a new chief deputy and filling any open positions.
Other immediate concerns will include updating the office's website and coordinating duties among staff, he said.
"I'm just looking forward to getting started," he said.