Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway was elected to his second term as the county’s top cop on Tuesday, garnering 52 percent in Tuesday’s vote after 99.45 percent of the votes were counted.
Pettway, 58, was elected four years ago as Jefferson County’s first Black sheriff.
Pettway has held onto that title against Republican challenger Jared Hudson, a 37-year-old former Navy SEAL who was making his first bid for public office.
The sheriff’s race was one of the most closely watched races in the county, but Pettway kept a lead throughout the night.
He was the underdog in 2018 when he defeated five-term Sheriff Mike Hale.
Pettway received 102,440 votes compared to Hudson’s 94,077 votes, which was 47.8 percent.
As of 11:20 p.m., 180 of the 181 boxes in Jefferson County had been tallied.
Pettway was confident of a win going into Tuesday’s election. “My trust is in the Lord,’’ he said heading into Tuesday’s vote.
Pettway began his law enforcement career at the Birmingham Police Department in 1991 as a corrections officer in the city jail. In 1993, he joined the Fairfield Police Department until moving to the sheriff’s office in 1999. He was promoted to the detective bureau in 2008 and investigated violent crimes.
He grew up in College Hills in Birmingham’s Smithfield community, graduating from Ensley High School, attended Jefferson State Community College and graduated from Faulkner University with a degree in business administration.
Pettway and his wife, Vanessa, have been married nearly 30 years. They have two grown daughters, both of whom graduated the University of Alabama.
The sheriff campaigned in 2018 on keeping schools safe, providing the best training, bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement and helping those incarcerated get educational and vocational training to get jobs once they get out.
He said he kept all of those campaign promises, and has a vision for his second term, which includes building a regional jail.
Pettway, in conjunction with the JBS Mental Health Authority and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, recently announced the grant-funded Crisis Care Center.
Instead of being arrested, Pettway said, those with addictions and mental illness, will receive care they need.
“We need them to have a place to get treatment other than a jail and it allows the deputies to get back to their beats a whole lot faster, so we’re not tied up with someone waiting in a hospital room for hours,” Pettway said.
Pettway also campaigned on a decrease in violent crime in unincorporated Jefferson County, citing a double-digit decline in overall crime with drops in all major crime categories except car burglary and car theft.
Hudson is a graduate of Mortimer Jordan High School and former firefighter. He served as a SEAL operator with Naval Special Warfare and was deployed multiple times to combat zones including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Foal Eagle. He still works with SEAL’s teams.
He served one year as a deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and worked as a reserve deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
In the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney race, incumbent Lynneice Washington defeated GOP challenger Bill Veitch.
Washington, 54, has served as the Cutoff’s district attorney since 2016 when she became the first Black woman elected district attorney in Alabama.
The Democrat defeated the now 71-year-old Veitch – who had been appointed to the office earlier that year – in the 2016 general election with a narrow margin, only 299 votes.
Washington on Tuesday received 26,635 votes for 53.25 percent compared to Veitch’s 23,336 votes, which was 46.66 percent.
Washington said that, throughout her administration, she has focused on a three-prong mission approach: promoting public safety, maintaining community trust and empowering youth for the future.
She cited Operation Python, which was formed to combat violent crime, and a candlelight vigil held each year during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, as some of the programs and operations she implemented as a result of her mission.