LIVINGSTON — Jason Ard, who was elected sheriff Saturday, will be the first Livingston Parish sheriff not named Graves since 1976.
Ard, who is current sheriff Willie Graves’ chief criminal deputy, garnered 20,984 votes., or 61.8 percent in Saturday’s election, according to complete but unofficial results from Livingston Parish Clerk of Court Tom Sullivan.
Ard’s closest challenger, retired State Trooper Mickey McMorris, garnered 12,431 votes, or 36.7 percent. Two other challengers, Pete Aranyosi and H.B. “Cookie” Billingsly, earned less than 1 percent apiece, with 299 and 218 votes, respectively.
“I had a good feeling we would do well,” Ard said. “It just shows that hard work pays off.”
Graves is retiring when his term ends June 30, and Ard was his choice to succeed him.
“I am very excited about tonight’s result,” Graves said. “Jason has worked so hard here for so long, we could not be more happy.”
Graves has been the sheriff since 1996. Before that, his father, Odom Graves, held the post, beginning in 1976.
Soon after Graves announced in January that he would not seek re-election, Ard and McMorris began what has been a long and expensive campaign.
Through Sept. 22, Ard spent nearly four times as much as McMorris, $412,696 to $104,211, campaign finance reports show.
Ard said he took an unpaid leave of absence from his duties at the Sheriff’s Office to focus on the campaign.
He said at the time that the length of the campaign contributed to its high cost.
McMorris expected the race would cost about $200,000, he said in September.
McMorris loaned his campaign approximately $112,000, campaign finance reports show.
Billingsley said in September that he spent about $500 of his own money.
Aranyosi had not filed a disclosure report, he said at the time.
Both Billingsley and Aranyosi said they weren’t accepting contributions.