There will be a Rockingham County Sheriff's race after all. After a write-in primary campaign, Shannon Coyle of Derry will run for the position as a Democrat.

"There wasn't a Democratic candidate (and) I never like somebody to walk in," Coyle said Tuesday. "I think people should have a choice."

Coyle will appear on the ballot opposite Republican nominee Sen. Mike Downing, R-Salem, in the general election for the highest law enforcement position in the county.

She is a full-time certified police officer with the Londonderry Police Department, currently working as a school resource officer at Londonderry High School. She also is certified in accident reconstruction, and has a degree from Elon University in North Carolina. Coyle's husband, Kevin Coyle, is a Derry town councilor and a Londonderry police prosecutor.

Coyle said she believed the office would be best held by a police officer, not a politician.

"It should be run like a police department," she said.

About a week before the election, Coyle said, she realized nobody had signed up to run as a Democrat, so she started a write-in campaign. She received 360 write-in votes, many of them local — Londonderry gave her the most votes with 82.

"I have gotten good feedback. I didn't know how that was going to go," she said. "It was a nice surprise, so I'm hoping to build on that."

In addition to keep politics out of the sheriff's office, Coyle said, she would like to improve community relations.

"I'd just like to reach out to the local police departments and see if we could help out more," Coyle said.

Downing, a former Salem and state police officer, said he still believed his mix of law enforcement, administrative and political experience made him the person best qualified to run the department.

"A lot of other people in Rockingham County also agree with that, evidently," he said yesterday.

Downing won the Republican primary with 10,456 votes. His closest competitor, John Clark, had 8,185 votes. Downing said it was a "bit of a surprise" to be facing an opponent after nobody was on the ballot for the Democratic nomination.

"I knew there were some write-ins, so it was just a matter of finding out who," Downing said. "It took longer than normal to get the results."

Results from the sheriff's race were not posted by the secretary of state's office until Monday.

Downing said having an opponent meant getting back out on the campaign trail.

"I'll be out there again, going everywhere I can, talking to as many people as I can, and just continuing the campaign," he said.

• • •

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How the votes stacked up

CANDIDATE PARTY VOTES

Shannon CoyleDemocrat (write-in)360

Mike DowningRepublican10,456

John ClarkRepublican8,185

David LovejoyRepublican4,238

Dan DumaineRepublican2,513

Frank GrzaskoRepublican2,307

Doug MullinRepublican1,082

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