Chief Deputy William King, who prevailed in a three-way race for York County sheriff Tuesday, said the vote was an endorsement of the work the sheriff’s department has been doing.

“I think what we found is that the citizens like the direction of the sheriff’s office,” King said Wednesday. “I think the message got out that a lot of the perceived problems are things that are out of our control, such as the budget.”

King won the Democratic primary with 3,948 votes or 49 percent of the ballots cast, easily topping challengers Dana Lajoie, who received 27 percent and Paul Main, who received 23 percent. In a race that included more negative campaigning than in recent contests, questions were raised about each candidate’s character as well as his ability to lead the sheriff’s office.

With no Republican candidate in the race, King is expected to easily win the general election.

The sheriff oversees the county jail, transporting inmates to court. His deputies patrol many of the towns that lack their own police departments.

Paul Main, who was making his second run for the sheriff’s office, conceded defeat Wednesday morning and said he does not plan to run again.

Main was a deputy between 1980 and 1999, taking a hiatus to perform country music in the late 1980s. His personnel file has numerous commendations from public and other agencies, but he has been out of law enforcement for 15 years.

Main thanked his supporters but conceded he was a much better sheriff’s deputy than he is a politician.

“I couldn’t compete with the money, that was the big difference,” said Main, who spent significantly less than the other candidates. “My son put it best this morning: The citizens get what they deserve.”

Main said he believes there are still serious problems at the jail that need addressing and he expressed disappointment that his defeat means he won’t be able to help the workers there.

According to campaign finance reports through May 27, Main raised $6,957 for the campaign. King raised $10,809 and Lajoie raised $12,315.

Lajoie, South Berwick police chief for the past 28 years, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday morning. A dispatcher said he was attending to family matters but was scheduled to be in the office Thursday.

Lajoie also had criticized the operation of the jail, saying there was too much animosity between management and workers and too much turnover in the staff.

King said the lack of a general election opponent allows him time to develop some initiatives so they are ready to launch after Jan. 1, once current Sheriff Maurice Ouellette retires.

He said he plans to develop a training program for teachers who might want to work part-time at the York County Jail and plans to develop the reserve officers program as another mechanism to alleviate staffing shortages at the jail.

King said he also plans to visit towns that rely on the sheriff’s office for police protection but that could benefit from hiring their own contract deputy. In addition to promoting the use of contract deputies – which increases dedicated police coverage without the overhead and expense of a full police department – King said multiple towns could share a contract investigator as well.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @Mainehenchman