Path to office clear for Sheriff’s veteran
Because politics are not his "cup of tea," Leavenworth County undersheriff Dave Zoellner said he didn't have any grand blueprint for his campaign to become the county's next sheriff.
"I just tried to run my campaign the most professional and positive way I thought to do it," Zoellner said. "I felt I ran a straight and narrow campaign."
Apparently it was enough.
Zoellner, a 36-year veteran of the sheriff's department, defeated the only challenger for the office, former Leavenworth police officer Gene Tomrell, during the primary election Tuesday night.
According to the complete but unofficial vote totals, Zoellner received 2,710 votes, well ahead of Tomrell's 1,160. The Leavenworth County Clerk's Office will begin validating the election Friday.
"I'm sincerely appreciative of the voters and of them putting their faith in me," Zoellner said.
Zoellner won the Democratic party's nomination to his office; as there were no Republican candidates, barring another candidate entering the race via a write-in campaign, Zoellner will secure the sheriff's position after the general election Nov. 2. He would assume office Jan. 10.
Although the path ahead appears clear of roadblocks, Zoellner said he's not taking anything for granted.
"My position in Leavenworth County is undersheriff," Zoellner said. "It will remain that until Jan. 10.
"I will continue that until such time as I can take the office of sheriff."
Zoellner, like Tomrell, is a Leavenworth resident.
He and his opponent are both law enforcement veterans and graduates of Leavenworth High School.
They're also friends, Zoellner said.
"I haven't talked to him yet but I consider us friends and we'll probably remain friends," Zoellner said.
Zoellner has served the sheriff's department since 1968, when he began work as a deputy.
Since then, he has worked in various capacities for the department including the jail, communications, patrol, investigations and administration.
He is currently the second-highest-ranking officer in the department.