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CHARLESTON -- Republican Jimmy Rankin won re-election as Coles County sheriff Tuesday, defeating the same candidate he faced four years ago but victorious by a smaller margin.

Unofficial vote totals Tuesday showed Rankin with 8,855 votes and Democratic challenger Greg Voudrie with 8,277.

Rankin's victory margin was about 52 percent-48 percent, while he received about 57 percent of the votes when he won his first term in 2014.

This year's campaign mirrored many of the themes of four years ago, with the two candidates differing on the proper role the sheriff should play.

Contacted after Tuesday's results, Rankin said he was grateful for the support and said he needed to improve on how he's done the job.

"My job is to win over the people who didn't vote for me," he said.

He said one of his goals for his second term, which starts Dec. 1, is to improve communications with the sheriff's office's deputies. He also said he wants to work more with the Coles County Board to find new revenue sources and on other projects.

Voudrie, who had retired from police tenure that included a captain's position with the Mattoon Police Department, said he was disappointed with the results but came away with "two positives" from the election.

His campaign goals included having the sheriff's command officers attend either the FBI or Northwestern University police academies, as he has, for an "increased level of training."

"We started that conversation and I hope that will continue," he said.

Voudrie added that there was an effort to encourage Eastern Illinois University students to vote and he expected an increase in their turnout for the election.

One of the campaign's focuses was on the part community activities have to play in the sheriff's job.

Voudrie criticized Rankin for his participation in community events, saying it took away from his time for his duties as sheriff. Rankin defined that work as a way for him to build relationships and learn more about what is happening in the county.

Voudrie also claimed he had the support of the county's law enforcement community while Rankin emphasized programs implemented and attempts already made at improving his relationship with deputies.

The sheriff's office was the only contested race for countywide elected offices Tuesday, though two other offices were also on the ballot.

Republican Julie Coe was unopposed in the election to replace retiring County Clerk Sue Rennels and received 14,229 votes Tuesday.

Incumbent Republican Treasurer George Edwards was also unopposed and received 14,010 votes.

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