Inside the numbers: How Chris Clark beat incumbent Sheriff Deb Burchett

Clark won by almost 20% over Burchett and did especially well in the county.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Chris Clark, who will be Clark County’s sheriff next year, won 62 of 76 precincts over incumbent Sheriff Deb Burchett in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

Because there is no Democrat challenger, Clark will begin his term Jan. 6, 2025.

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.

Clark won big in some precincts. In one part of his hometown area of Madison Twp., he won 79.28% more votes than Burchett, a total of 212 votes to Burchett’s 43. In another South Charleston and Madison Twp. area, he won 66.28% more votes, or 199 votes to Burchett’s 23.

Clark expressed his “complete gratitude to the voters for recognizing we need a change for the better and giving me that opportunity.” He said he is overjoyed by his significant win in the Madison Twp. area.

Clark won 14 precincts by 30% or more of the vote, and 32 by more than 20% of the vote. He won all eight precincts in Springfield Twp., where Burchett lives.

Of the 14 precincts she carried, Burchett won areas of the city of Springfield by the largest percentages, though the vote counts overall were low compared to other areas in Clark County. In the city’s eighth precinct, she won 35.72% more of the vote, translating to 38 votes more than Clark’s 18. In the 10th precinct, she won 21.74% more of the vote, but that was a total of 14 votes to Clark’s nine.

According to voter data, turnout was 26.11% of registered voters, the majority being election-day voters. In Clark County, there are 86,000 registered voters. Of these, 22,741 cast their ballot in the primary.

According to Ohio law, the Board of Elections must begin canvassing election returns to begin the certification process five to 15 days after the elections. This has to be completed within 21 days, and 81 days after the election, tabulations are finalized.

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.

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 he plans to return the office “back to where it should be.”

Burchett has been sheriff since 2017; she defeated longtime Democrat Sheriff Gene Kelly in a year Republicans swept the county in November 2016. She beat Kelly by 8.82% percentage points.

She is the county’s first female sheriff.

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.

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