2018 Midterm Elections

Cochran to continue as Swain sheriff

Cochran to continue as Swain sheriff

Incumbent Republican Curtis Cochran has secured his fourth term as sheriff of Swain County after facing off against Democratic challenger Rocky Sampson. 

Incumbent Republican Curtis Cochran has secured his fourth term as sheriff of Swain County after facing off against Democratic challenger Rocky Sampson. Cochran received about 64 percent of the vote to Sampson’s 36 percent. This is Sampson’s second election loss after running against Cochran for sheriff in 2014, though he didn’t make it past the primary. Cochran garnered 57 percent of the vote with his last win in 2014 against Democrat Chuck McMahan.

“The people of Swain County have spoken again for the fourth time and sent us a clear mandate saying they’re pleased with law enforcement in Swain County,” Cochran said Tuesday night. 

As with elections in the past, Cochran faced criticism for his lack of law enforcement experience before becoming sheriff in 2006 — before being elected he was the maintenance director for the county. This time around he also faced a candidate challenge and accusations of misconduct in the jail and excessive force being used by deputies, but Cochran holds firm to his staff’s integrity.

“The people of Swain County also have spoken very loudly about how they feel about dirty politics and campaigning,” Cochran said. “This has been the nastiest campaign anyone in Swain County has had to put up with and it’s uncalled for.”

The candidate challenge was filed by a fellow Swain County resident Jerry Lowery back in February shortly after Cochran signed up to run for another term. The challenge claimed Cochran wasn’t eligible to run for office because he was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military and therefore considered a felon. The challenge was dismissed following a hearing before the Swain County Board of Elections and then later dismissed by the N.C. Board of Elections after Lowery appealed the challenge to the state. 

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Sampson has been on unpaid leave from his position with the Bryson City Police Department while he was running for office — as is required by a town of Bryson City policy — and will now return to his law enforcement duties.


Sheriff              Votes   Percentage

Curtis Cochran* (R) 3,354    64 

Rocky Sampson (D) 1,895    36



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