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Veteran officers facing off for city marshal

John W. Sumrall Jr. and Willis Yarbrough advanced to the Dec. 6 runoff for 4th Ward City Court Marshal after Tuesday’s General Election.

Sumrall, who has 24 years experience with the Bogalusa Police Department, has seven years experience as 4th Ward deputy marshal, including six as chief deputy marshal. He said he ran his campaign on his record alone.

“I ran my campaign on my qualifications and experience,” Sumrall said. “My qualifications and experience spoke for themselves. That’s what the citizens wanted.”

Sumrall garnered 37.3 percent of the vote, or 1,863 votes, in Tuesday’s four-man field.

Yarbrough, who has 30 years of experience with the Bogalusa Police department, finished with 1,179 votes for 23.6 percent.

Dewitt Williams Jr. was third with 1,102 votes for 22 percent, while Mike Garic was fourth with 845 votes, or 16.9 percent.

The 4th Ward marshal is the enforcement side of the court system.

“We’re in charge of security during all court sessions,” Sumrall said. “We also serve all summonses and subpoenas from the City Court of Bogalusa, and we enforce all court orders from City Court, which includes evictions and property evictions. We have full law enforcement powers. We’re armed and can make arrests.”

Sumrall is seeking to win his first six-year term. He was appointed to serve out the remaining 10 months of former Marshal Wayne Adams after he retired.

Sumrall rose through the ranks of the Bogalusa Police Department. He began as a patrolman and later advanced to captain. He has experience as a patrol officer, detective and investigator.

Sumrall said he wasn’t running against any particular individual.

“I wasn’t sure who my biggest challenge was going to be,” Sumrall said. “I wasn’t running against anybody. I was running on my experience in law enforcement.”

The 54-year-old Sumrall said he isn’t going to do anything different for the runoff.

“I want to thank the voters of the 4th Ward for their support,” Sumrall said. “I want to continue my campaign as I’ve done before running on my record. I also want to congratulate Mr. Yarbrough as my challenger in the upcoming election. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and focus on the campaign. It works real well.”

Yarbrough ran a low-key campaign. He said he wasn’t surprised by making the runoff.

“No, I was not surprised. I prayed a lot on it and asked God to give me the wisdom.” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough said he got the word out by footwork.

“I went out there and walked a lot of hot days,” Yarbrough said. “I put in a lot of sweat equity. It will pay off no matter what you do. It was a lot of footwork and talking to the people. I told them what I stand for. I want to start off new and put trust back in the marshal’s office.”

Yarbrough said he also relied on his police experience.

“I came up from the bottom of the Bogalusa Police Department and rose to the top,” Yarbrough said. “I retired from the department in 2007. The year before that, I was the interim police chief.”

Yarbrough said trust is key in the office.

“You’ve got to have somebody in the office you can trust,” Yarbrough said. “I treat everybody the same way, no matter who they are. All people want is a fair chance.”