St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain’s lead has increased to 48 percent with 130 of 158 precincts reporting, but Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith is still in the hunt for a runoff with 33 percent of the vote
Retired Customs Agent Scott Illing is in third place with 16 percent and Jennifer Werther, a retired Navy captain, is at 3 percent.
Strain, Smith and Illing are Republicans, and Werther is a Libertarian.
Smith, who won a second term as chief last year, announced his candidacy in January. Illing got into the race in July, launching his campaign the same week he retired from his federal job. Werther, a Libertarian, launched her campaign on social media more than a year ago.
Strain ran on his record, touting St. Tammany as a safe place to live with an enviably low crime rate. All three challengers stressed the need for change. Smith said voters were hungry for new leadership. Illing and Werther, both first-time candidates, also touted their outsider status, trying to capitalize on an anti-incumbent mood.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter at @spagonesadvocat.