Caldwell, one candidate, said he reached out to people in various ways, including newspaper ads, mail-home slips and church visits.
“I’ve also been asked to come and speak and appear at different meetings,” he said.
Caldwell said he believes in himself because of his 22 years of experience at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
“I feel very confident,” Caldwell said. “You have to be in it to win it.”
Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said the board has been preparing for the runoff — doing things like getting poll books and ballots printed.
“We also have our coding down for our voting machines so they are able to count efficiently,” Reams said.
Reams said residents can cast their early vote between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Board of Elections office at 208 S. Cameron St. in Hillsborough. She said on Saturday the office will only be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Reams said she expects possibly five to seven percent of registered voters to show up. On election day, July 15, the office will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Reams said the office opened up on the second Thursday prior to the election because of a state statute.
“We want to make sure people go to our website if they have any questions,” she said.
Blackwood said due to the progression of his work in the police department, he has always hoped of one day being sheriff of Orange County.
Blackwood said he has 32 years of experience with the department, which he said makes him stand out from his competitor.
“When you look at that, it is a world away, but like I’ve said before — ‘Good people lose in runoffs,’” he said.
Caldwell said the main difference between Blackwood and himself is experience — but he said he has better connections.
“He has three plus years more than me in the department, but I have good contacts with different people and different cultures,” Caldwell said.
Blackwood said he remains optimistic he can encourage his supporters to vote.
“The person who can win this election will be the person who can get people to the poll,” he said.
Current Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said age was the determining factor when he decided not to seek re-election.
“I had eight successful terms,” Pendergrass said. “I’m 80 years old, and I felt it was time for someone else to come in and take the helm.”
Pendergrass said he wants the new sheriff to be a servant to the people and protect them.
“Well, I’ve always had the policy that we are here, and only are here, for the citizens of Orange County,” he said. “We are here to look after the citizens, no matter what.”
He also said both of the candidates are good people, but he said Blackwood worked with him before he retired from the department. According to a press release, Pendergrass endorsed Blackwood for the position.
“I just hope the people will get out and vote,” he said. “This is one thing that we really need to pay attention to. This office belongs to the people.”
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