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Sheriff term limit opponents vow to try again

Nov. 11, 2012 @ 09:14 AM

PARKERSBURG (AP) -- Supporters of an amendment to eliminate the two-consecutive-term limit on sheriffs in West Virginia are disappointed it failed, but encouraged it wasn't by much.

The amendment lost by 5 to 6 points, the fourth time such an amendment has failed in West Virginia.

"It was only a 5 percent margin," said Executive Director Rudi Raynes Kidder of the West Virginia Sheriffs Association. "We're very pleased at the showing."

The state constitution originally limited sheriffs to one four-year term. In 1973, voters made the change allowing sheriffs to hold office up to two consecutive terms or eight years.

Since then, there have been three attempts to remove term limits for the office, but voters rejected attempts in 1982, 1986 and 1994.

The results were encouraging from Tuesday's election, according to Kidder.

The association was disappointed, but will continue to push for the matter to move the state forward, she said. Kidder has been with the association as executive director for two years.

The smaller margin shows residents want to retain the more popular sheriffs, she said.

It may take a few years more before it will pass and everyone is educated on the issue, she said. Tuesday's numbers show the association can continue to do a better job in future elections, Kidder said.

"We are one of only three states that have these (limits)," said Kidder. "We (the state) need to get with the rest of the nation and get on the right track."

The governor is the only other office with a two-term limit in West Virginia. The other two states with sheriff term limits are Indiana and New Mexico.

Many voters were confused by the language of the amendment, Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy said.

"It's the closest it's ever been (to passing)," Sandy said. "A lot of people felt that it was confusing and they may have voted for it the wrong way."