Longtime lawman Sonny Cox will be hanging up his sheriff's badge soon.
Cox won the race to become Greenwood County's new coroner Tuesday, winning the general election in a landslide by 57 percentage points, according to unofficial results.
Cox, a petition candidate, outpaced Marcia Kelley-Clark, his write-in opponent, receiving 16,276 votes. There were 4,444 votes for write-in hopefuls cast Tuesday. The final tally swung heavily in Cox's favor as he won 78.55 percent of the vote, while write-in candidates accounted for 21.45 percent.
"I'm ready to get started, ready to go to work, and I'm ready to embrace that change," Cox said. "I felt like I was going to get strong support, but I didn't know it was going to go to this level."
Cox will take over for Jim Coursey, who announced in January he would not seek re-election for another term to the post. He said one of his first points of order would be to look at the structure of how the coroner's office is organized to identify ways it can be improved.
Cox brings with him more than 35 years of law enforcement experience, including 29 years at the Greenwood Police Department and six working for the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office. Cox is currently a major with the sheriff's office, and credited the victory to his extensive policing background and community involvement.
"I've met a lot of people over my years," he said. "This was not a race that was easily won. I would like to take a moment to thank my opponent, Marcia Kelley-Clark, who ran a challenging race throughout the year."
Kelley-Clark, the Greenwood County office's current chief deputy coroner, countered Cox's long-tenure in a police uniform during the race, arguing she had a more essential slate of credentials to bring to the position. She has served 12 years in the coroner's office, including the last seven as its second-in-command. Kelley-Clark could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Cox thanked his supporters in an issued statement submitted to the Index-Journal, and noted he would strive to bring professionalism and quality care to the office.
"I have established goals for the Coroner's Office," he said. "I will begin implementing some changes immediately in an effort to enhance our service for the citizens of our community."