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Forte cruises to a full term as Jackson County sheiff

Mike Genet

Darryl Forte will remain as Jackson County Sheriff.

Forte easily beat back a challenge from predecessor Mike Sharp, who resigned under duress more than two years ago, leading to Forte's appointment in May 2018.

In Eastern Jackson County, unofficial results Tuesday showed the sheriff garnered 77 percent of the vote – 27,306 votes to Sharp's 8,034. In Kansas City, as of 9 p.m., Forte had 84 percent of vote of more than 37,000 ballots cast.

There was no Republican primary, so Forte will be unopposed in the November election and will return to office in January for a four-year term. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Forte was the first Black chief of police in Kansas City and holds the same distinction for sheriff. After being appointed sheriff, he won election later in the year to finish out Sharp's term. He campaigned on continuing the culture change he has tried to lead in the sheriff's department.

Sharp said he decided to try and regain his former post after some convincing from a couple county legislators and hearing of low morale among deputies in the department.

Among the moves Forte pointed to from his first couple years: promoting the first female captain in the agency’s history, revising the policies for vehicle pursuit and domestic incidents, putting together formal plans for professional development and vehicle replacement and the improving the county’s sex offender registry compliance.

Also during Forte’s tenure, the voters shifted jail oversight from the county executive’s office to the sheriff, and the sheriff said they have reduced workers compensation claims and employee turnover each by 50 percent.

Sharp resigned in April 2018, shortly after court documents revealed an ongoing sexual and inappropriate financial relationship with a Sheriff's Office employee who had an ongoing sexual harassment suit against the department.

Last month, Sharp said he had already planned to leave for another job lined up with a friend, as he had just helped the county give deputies a significant pay raise. Political maneuvers led to the court document revelations about the inappropriate relationship, he claims, and simply hastened his departure. Ultimately, he did not take that other job.