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November 1, 2012

Two in county sheriff’s race

NORMAN — There was some early confusion over whether Oklahoma Republican Rep. Mike Reynolds was running for Cleveland County Sheriff because he shares the same name with a Moore business owner.

Incumbent Sheriff Joe Lester defeated Republican challenger and business owner Mike Reynolds in the primary. Reynolds owns and operates the Fluffy Puppy, a dog grooming business in Moore, and apparently is not related to Rep. Reynolds.

Now Lester will take on Independent Kelly Owings, of Lexington, on Tuesday.

The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office was established in 1889.

In addition to patrolling the county and its communities, the sheriff and staff investigate crimes, provide courthouse security, serve civil process papers and operate the F. Dewayne Beggs detention facility (county jail).

Incumbent Joe Lester has served as Cleveland County Sheriff since January 2009.

Independent Kelly Owings: Owings, 50, of Lexington, filed as an independent candidate for sheriff. Owings was a police officer for the Lexington police at one time.

Republican Joe Lester: Lester is a native Oklahoman and first arrived in Cleveland County in 1991 as police chief and director of public safety for the University of Oklahoma, where he served until 2003.

Lester began his law enforcement career in 1965 as a commissioned officer in the United States Army Military Police. In 1969, after finishing his tour of duty, he began his civilian law enforcement career with the Tulsa Police Department from 1969 to 1991.

From 2003 to 2004, he expanded his duties to vice president of Bridges International Development and began working economic development in the Congo in Africa.

In 2004, he began working with Homeland Security through the T & J Group, serving there until 2008, when he was elected as Cleveland County sheriff.

Lester has served in numerous capacities, including the Red Cross Board for Cleveland County, the United Way of Norman, vice chair of the Norman Crime Stoppers, vice chair of Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church Administrative Board, president of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Commission, president of the Oklahoma FBI National Academy Associates, executive committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, member of Leadership Oklahoma, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Community Policing committee, executive committee of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, board member for the Gatesway Foundation, member of Rotary International and the American Legion.

Lester completed his bachelor’s degree in 1973 from Northeastern State University and received his master’s degree in 1975 from Oklahoma City University.

His continuing education and professional training includes National Crime Prevention Institution in 1981, the FBI National Academy in 1994 and Secret Service Dignitary Protection School in 1995.

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