Orange County Sheriff Candidate David Caldwell says he’s feeling good about what he calls a “history-making election” in the upcoming second primary for the office, despite the typical low voter turnout for runoff races.

David Caldwell

David Caldwell

“The intensity is unbelievable,” Caldwell says. “The amount of people that are involved and more informed has really blown me away.”

That’s Orange County Sheriff candidate David Caldwell, comparing the first six-way Democratic primary for Orange County Sheriff back in May and the runoff election between himself and Charles Blackwood that comes up on July 15.

Nearly 6,000 voters cast ballots in the early-voting period leading up to that May primary, which could have determined the next person to take the job, since there are no Republicans running.

But no clear winner emerged. Blackwood received the most votes at 30 percent, but 40 percent was needed to avoid a runoff, and Caldwell was only a little more than 60 votes behind him.

Blackwood recently expressed concerns to WCHL that low-voter turnout in the runoff could spell trouble for his campaign.

Caldwell, however, told WCHL that he is optimistic after two days of early voting had been completed, and 481 votes had been cast at the Orange County Board of Elections office in Hillsborough.

He said that’s actually more than he expected, which is one of the reasons Caldwell said he feels so hopeful.

“I think this is going to surprise a lot of people,” Caldwell says. “I don’t think it’s going to be as low as they think. It’s going to be a history-making election.”

For another thing, he said, it will mark the first time residents have voted for a new sheriff in 31 years.

If elected, Caldwell would be the first African-American Orange County Sheriff in a history of the office that dates back to 1752.

“Another history-making event that makes this election so important,” Caldwell says. “I think that’s one of the reasons so many people are excited about it. It’s just going to be history-making all around.”

Retiring Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass has endorsed Blackwood, who began his career in the Sheriff’s Department in 1980 under Sheriff “Buck” Knight.

Caldwell is a lifelong Orange County resident who’s worked for the Carrboro Police Department, in addition to 22 years with the Sheriff’s Department. Between those two jobs, he served in the Army, in Germany and Grenada.

He told WCHL that his love for Orange County is what kept him coming back, and it’s what drives him in this race.

“Many people in my neighborhood that I grew up with and went to school with, they left Orange County and didn’t come back because they thought there was no opportunity, there was nothing here for them, and things of that nature,” Caldwell says. “I’d like to see Orange County be a place where the families did come back and did stay.”

Caldwell has picked up an endorsement from former primary opponent Andy Cagle. For a list of all of Caldwell’s endorsements, click here.