St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre led the voting but couldn’t avoid a runoff with his former colleague, Michael Hoover, barely falling short of 50 percent after the final tally in a four-person race Saturday night.

Tregre fell 53 votes shy of an outright win, scoring 49.6 percent of the vote to 43.5 percent for Hoover, a former sheriff’s captain seeking to win the seat Tregre took in 2011 as a political newcomer. All 39 precincts reported. The runoff is Nov. 21.

Residents of St. John Parish cast more than 14,600 votes, according to Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s office.

Losing badly were former parish public works director and retired Monsanto manager Clifford Bailey of Edgard, and juvenile probation officer Samantha Burl Wilson of Mt. Airy. Neither garnered four percent of the vote.

All four candidates are Democrats.

The sheriff, with about 250 employees, is charged with law enforcement in the increasingly suburban parish and oversight of a 300-bed jail facility.

Tregre, 49, credits better deputy training, a boost in patrols and other crime prevention strategies for strides in reducing violent crime in the parish, while both Hoover and Bailey argued on the campaign trail that Tregre has lost trust within the agency of 250 employees and in the public eye, citing some high-profile recent troubles within the sheriff’s office.

Tregre shook up the department when he took office, and among the deputies he demoted was Hoover, who resigned this year as a sergeant after 25 years in the department to run for sheriff. Financially, Hoover presented the biggest challenge to Tregre, having raised $67,000 to Tregre’s $87,000 this year, according to the latest state campaign filings.

Hoover, 50, of Garyville, touts a lengthy career working under three St. John sheriff’s, beginning as a patrol officer in 1990. Like Tregre four years ago, Hoover also emphasizes his lack of political inclinations.

Bailey, 62, cited his experience as a manager at Monsanto, and close ties to the community - in particular on the West Bank - through various businesses. Bailey and Hoover were making their first runs at public office. Wilson was been quiet on the campaign trail, and she ran last.

Tregre roundly bested his former boss, Wayne Jones, to assume the sheriff’s post, taking office in 2012.

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