Chris Clark will be next Clark County sheriff: ‘I can’t wait to serve’

Challenger wins by almost 20% over incumbent Sheriff Deborah Burchett.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

First-time candidate Chris Clark led early and built on the margin as results continued to come in, scoring a victory against incumbent Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett in Tuesday’s Republican primary election for the top elected law enforcement job in the county.

According to final, unofficial results, Clark received 59.67% of the vote, while Burchett had 40.33%, a difference of just more than 3,000 votes.

“I can’t thank the people who’ve supported me through this enough, my wife and my kids, they’ve been through the ups and downs for the last year,” Clark said. “... It all paid off tonight, and the citizens of Clark County have spoken. I can’t wait to serve them as their Clark County sheriff.”

According to voter data, there was a turnout of 26.11% of registered voters, the majority being election-day voters.

Clark served different roles in the sheriff’s office from 1997 until early last year. He also is Madison Twp.’s fire chief, something he said taught him community leadership and has given him incident command and crisis response expertise.

Clark said his first step in office will be to evaluate personnel and the budget to get staffing to the level it should be. He said he plans to return the office “back to where it should be.”

During the campaign, Clark said he worked to be as accessible and transparent as possible, something he said will continue at the start of his tenure.

“I want to say thank you to everybody for supporting me for this entire endeavor; it was one of the best experiences of my life,” Clark said.

Credit: Jessica Orozco

Credit: Jessica Orozco

The GOP winner faces no challenger in November, meaning Clark will become the next Clark County sheriff.

Burchett has been sheriff since 2017; she defeated longtime Democrat Sheriff Gene Kelly in a year Republicans swept the county in November 2016. She is the county’s first female sheriff.

Burchett did not return a request for comment after the final, unofficial results.

She fired Clark in 2023. She wrote to him he was “terminated because I have lost trust in you as my fiduciary.” Clark said she fired him because she thought he would run against her, though he said he planned to run once she retired.

After becoming a deputy, Clark worked his way up to detective, sergeant, lieutenant, then to major. In 2011 he received the Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award from then-Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Clark has been with the Madison Twp. Fire Department for 32 years, serving as its chief for almost 17 years.

Clark said previously he hopes to increase recruitment, waiving application fees and improving the work environment at the sheriff’s office.

Clark also said under him, employees will get more continuing education and the sheriff’s office will take advantage of the department’s intimate partner violence trained sergeant’s nationally recognized expertise to train more officers.

He said previously a major concern of his is the sheriff’s office budget. He said through public records, he learned that in 2022 and 2023, the office has almost $2 million in overtime budgeted.

Clark said when Burchett took office, the overtime budget was $207,000.

Burchett said previously that salaries and overtime costs are on the same budget line, and they need to be separated to get an accurate number. She said in 2022 she returned $91,005 to the county, and $281,418 in 2023.

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