The voting has yet to be certified by King County Elections, but King County Sheriff Steve Strachan conceded the race to challenger John Urquhart Thursday afternoon as new election tallies showed Urquhart maintaining an insurmountable lead, 57 percent to 43 percent.
As of 4:30 p.m., Urquhart leads with 308,425 votes and Strachan trails with 229,664, according to King County Elections.
"The Sheriff’s election is over and I have conceded," wrote Strachan to supporters on his Facebook page. "I am proud to say that I believe I am leaving this office better than I found it."
Reached by phone on Thursday, Urquhart said the break from non-stop campaigning was welcome as he relaxed in his Mercer Island home.
"I've been literally campaigning seven days a week for seven months, so it's nice to kick back a little bit," he said. "I feel great … any time you can beat an incumbent, it's a great achievement."
Urquhart said he believed his message resonated with voters because King County residents came to realize what he saw concerning the King County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies, prompting him to run for sheriff: "We are in a crossroads for policing in the Northwest." He viewed the election as a validation of his belief that policing has crossed into a new epoch, similar to the 1970s when he said a series of payoff scandals rocked the KCSO, the Seattle Police Department and local government.
"They're looking for a change in the way that business is done — more accountability, more transparency, and they want a say in how they want things done — on how they want police work done," he said.
He pledged that the community would be more closely involved in independently reviewing use of force — especially lethal force — and that he would "rebuild" the department's internal investigations process.
"We are going to be open and accessible to the community," he said. "I don't think we're out there enough. I want to get our deputies out of their patrol cars and into the community."
On his first day, Urquhart said he would reassure all deputies and civilians working at the KCSO that we are moving forward in a positive way.
With the proliferation of technology recording real-time video, such as on police vehicle cameras, surveillance video from city streets, and citizens carrying iPhones, Urquhart believes that police must now operate under the assumption that everything is now recorded on a camera.
"That as much as anything is driving changes in the way we conduct police work," he said. "And that's a good thing."
Final certification of the election occurs Nov. 27, and Urquhart will officially start soon afterwards, although no official date has been set.