By Ivey Schofield
Bladen County voters have reelected Jim McVicker for a third term as sheriff.
McVicker, a Republican and a retired N.C. Highway Patrol trooper, won 55% of the vote in Bladen County, unofficial results from the North Carolina State Board of Elections show. His Democratic opponent, Hakeem Brown, got 45%.
It was the second time McVicker and Brown competed. In 2018, McVicker also won with 55% of the vote.
McVicker has been sheriff since 2014, when he won by about 350 votes.
A lawsuit filed in 2016 by Jeff Smith, whose business was raided at least twice by McVicker’s office, alleged that McVicker won the 2014 election against the Black incumbent because of connections to Leslie McCrae Dowless, a Republican political operative who was implicated in an election fraud scheme in 2018.
The state board of elections investigated Dowless’ efforts in handling absentee ballots for U.S. House candidate Mark Harris, who narrowly won the election over the incumbent. Dowless was convicted on unrelated fraud charges in 2021 and died in April.
In a court deposition, McVicker denied any knowledge of a potential election scheme. Smith later agreed to shut down his business.
McVicker told the Border Belt Independent in August that he successfully advocated for increased funding for additional school resource officers.
County commissioners set the property tax rate at 78.5 cents per $100 valuation to pay for the positions. Then they put a sales tax referendum on the ballot this election in an effort to decrease the property tax rate to 77.7 cents per $100 valuation and still have enough money to pay for one school resource officer at every school.
The sales tax measure failed, with 57% voting against it.