JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As Election Day draws near, Jackson County Sheriff candidates Mike Ezell and Scott Mcllrath are pulling out all the stops to reel in the votes.
"We are working hard knocking on doors, and we are making phone calls," said Ezell.
"I have been out hitting these parking lots, going door to door all week, talking to a lot of business owners," Mcllrath said.
The battle to be sheriff began with six contenders, but most of them were knocked out of the race in the first round. Now, the longtime lawmen are the last two standing, and each one believes he is more qualified to do the job.
"I have been with the district attorney's office the last 10 years as the chief investigator. I have worked cases in three counties with 16 different law agencies. I have investigated a lot of public corruption. I have managed a multimillion dollar budget. I have actually been a deputy sheriff," said Mcllrath.
"I have told y'all about my 34 years of experience, my training, my education, my background, my commitment to the job. I love this county, and I want a better sheriff's office for Jackson County," Ezell said.
The winner will take over the troubled department, ending former Sheriff Mike Byrd's era that has been marked by controversy and resulted in him pleading guilty to a state and felony crime late last year.
The candidates are stressing to voters if elected, they will put those problems in the past and focus on positive change.
"We are going to work every day under the rule of law, and we are going to treat people the way we want to be treated. We are going to act professional and be professionals, and we are going to work hard," said Ezell.
"There are a lot of good people in the sheriff's office, and we need to get the election behind us. We need a strong leader and get them the right training and get back on the right track to being law enforcement officers," Mcllrath said.
Although the Ezell and Mcllrath platforms are different, they share the same passion about voting in this runoff.
"The voters will have their say on Tuesday, and we are excited about it," Mcllrath said.
"It is so important, this race for sheriff. We need everyone to go vote," Ezell said.
Circuit Clerk Joe Martin says more than 350 absentee ballots have been cast for the sheriff's race.
He also points out if a voter did not vote in the Nov. 4, general election, he or she may still vote in Tuesday's runoff.