It's official, there will be a contest this November for Lenoir County sheriff.
Rickie Pearson turned in enough signatures Thursday morning to be placed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.
Pearson is the retired chief deputy for the department, and his son, Detective Allen Pearson, was killed in the line of duty back in 2009.
Pearson turned in 2223 signatures, and only needed 1957. The Lenoir County Board of Elections confirmed that his name will be on the ballot.
He will face Democratic primary winner Ronnie Ingram, who defeated Sheriff Chris Hill on May 6th.
No Republican filed for the office.
'I knew with my opponent Mr. Ingram and current Sheriff Chris Hill, if I filed as a Democrat the citizens wouldn't have had a real big choice because we would have all kind of killed each other, and I just wanted the citizens to have a real choice," said Pearson.
Ingram is a retired major with the Kinston Police Department, while Hill was appointed sheriff after Sheriff Billy Smith retired last year.
Retired Lenoir County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rickie Pearson tells WITN he has gathered the required signatures to get his name on the ballot in November for sheriff.
Pearson, the father of Deputy Allen Pearson, who was killed in the line of duty in 2009, had until June 12 to get the 1,557 signatures.
He will be an unaffiliated candidate and will face Democrat Ronnie Ingram, who defeated Sheriff Chris Hill in the primary.
Pearson says he plans to officially file Thursday morning at the Lenoir County Board of Elections office.
Tuesday's primary election for Lenoir County sheriff is in the books, but winner Ronnie Ingram could face a challenger in six months.
Retired Chief Deputy Rickie Pearson is the father of Deputy Allen Pearson, who was killed in the line of duty in 2009. Pearson's focus now is on gathering enough signatures to get on the ballot and make a run at Ingram in November.
The catch? Pearson must get 1,557 signatures to officially run for sheriff.
"It's a lot harder than I thought it would be," Pearson told WITN on Wednesday. "It's not easy. You've gotta put in a lot of time and effort. Like I told you, this morning I was on the road at 7:30, 8 o'clock this morning. "
A lifelong Democrat, Pearson chose not to run as a Democrat in the primary election. Instead, he's attempting to run unaffiliated which requires Pearson get 4% of the county's registered voters to sign his petition before June 12. As of Wednesday, Pearson had about 1,100.
After 38 years of service with the department, Pearson says he wants to bring veteran leadership during this transition from Sheriff Billy Smith.
"I enjoyed the sheriff's office. I helped build the sheriff's office. I feel like that's my sheriff's department."
If Pearson secures the 1,557 signatures, the Lenoir County Board of Elections will have to approve them before he gets his name on November's ballot.