Prior to his successful recent election bid, Eddie Virden had been involved in other county sheriff’s races.
“I’d campaigned for my brother-in-law, ” Virden said, referring to former Washington County Sheriff Pat Ballard, who served from 1990-2008.
Virden said the experience from those past campaigns had been of very little help to him during the past few months, as he stumped the 2,300 square miles of the Osage searching for votes.”
“Things are just a whole lot different when you’re doing it for yourself,” Virden, Osage County’s sheriff-elect, said of life on the campaign trail.
In the Nov. 8 general election, Virden, Republican, emerged as the winner with a 52.5 percent plurality over Osage County Undersheriff Lou Ann Brown, Democrat.
Early and absentee results established a slight advantage for his opponent, but Virden had moved into the lead by the time the first dozen precincts were reported. From then on, Virden had drawn steadily away. Final vote results were certified by the Osage County Election Board on Friday showing Virden at 9.887 and Brown with 8,929.
Virden has more than 30 years of law-enforcement experience, having started with the Bartlesville Police Department.
“I’ve worked in every area — as a patrolman, on SWAT teams and in criminal investigation,” said Virden.
Virden has been the head of several special investigations units and drug task forces. served as a state agent with responsibilities over a several counties, including Osage. He retained a deputy’s commission in his latest employment capacity as ranch manager of Osage County’s Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch. For the past 12 years, Virden has resided on a ranch located north of Pawhuska.
While much of Virden’s work as a lawmen has been in surrounding counties (Washington, Nowata, Pawnee, etc.), he served as an Osage County criminal investigator from 2005 to 2010, under soon-to-retire Sheriff Ty Koch. After that, he was a special state .agent for several counties, including Osage.
Virden said he intends to create a citizen’s advisory panel that will assist the the Osage County Sheriff’s Department in various duty areas. The sheriff-elect said he also intends to enhance the county’s reserve officer program.
“I think it’s critical for us to work on getting back the trust of the public,” Virden said. “We will build from a team base and use all of the resources available to us.
“My intent is to better law enforcement and give the people of Osage County the protection they deserve,” Virden added.