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'The work has only begun' - Lee defeats Oestreich in resounding victory

Voters at the Biesiot Activity Center cast their vote. Photo by Sylvia Armstrong

After months of contentious campaigning, supporters of Incumbent Sheriff Terry Oestreich and candidate Corey Lee—Stark County Sheriff candidates—gathered to see who would man the county's helm over the next four years.

The final nail came at 9:01, with the announcement that a winner had been declared in the Stark County Sheriff's race. With 7,487 votes, Lee defeated Oestreich who garnered 4,207 votes.

"I'm just really thankful for the trust and the respect shown for me in this election," Lee said. "I don't even know what to say right now, it's amazing. The thing about an election is it's a long hard process and the reality is that the work has only begun."

As polling stations at the National Guard Armory and Biesiot Activity Center in Dickinson closed amid falling snow and chilling weather, patrons of The Rock Bar gathered with eyes turned to the television. Comments of "four more years" and "one-term Terry" could be heard between conversation and drink, both sides hopeful but neither particularly confident their candidate would be the victor.

The atmosphere inside remained jovial yet anxious as the first numbers began coming in. Mixed feelings on the candidates had been the talk of the county for weeks, but inside a clear favorite began to emerge.

"I've talked with both of them and I think they're both good guys," Jens Braaten, a Lee supporter, said. "It comes down to community involvement and integrity for me."

As the night progressed, laughter, food and cocktails served as backdrop to a releasing tension as the tides began to shift against the incumbent.

The announcement of a victor set off a series of high fives and cheers as the news spread across the bar and onto social media.

"A horse apiece really," Clint Johnson, a Lee supporter, said. "My wife and I really like Corey because of the interaction with the community."

Throughout the election cycle, expectations in the community had the race being a tightly contested affair, but Tuesday night's results were a referendum on the one-term sheriff.

Attempts by The Dickinson Press to reach Oestreich were unsuccessful.