PEKIN — Jeff Lower has won the Republican primary and will vie this fall to become the Tazewell County sheriff.

With 100 percent of the precincts counted, Lower, 55, had 8,183 or 53 percent of the vote total. His opponent, Michael Eeten tallied 7,215 votes or 47 percent. A bit less than 18 percent of the eligible voters participated in Tuesday's election.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but it feels quite good. I am more thankful than anything," Lower said. "I'm thankful for the people who got me to this point. I couldn't have done it on my own."

Lower, who has been the chief deputy for close to eight years was endorsed by his boss, Robert Huston, who announced last year that he wasn't seeking re-election and would retire. Huston, who has been elected five times as the county's top lawman, has two years remaining in his current term. No Democrats have filed so far. 

Lower has spent more than 29 years in law enforcement. Eeten, 41, has been a police officer for 12 years, with 10 of those years being with the Pekin Police Department. He was the department’s public information officer before switching assignments after he announced his candidacy.

Lower campaigned on three main issues including the department's budget, the opioid epidemic and proper training and recruitment of new employees. And while he's elated with the victory, it's time to go back to work, he said.

"We are trying to hire people," Lower said. "We just have to continue to move in that direction. We have meth coming back into the Pekin area and with regards to the opioid epidemic, we need to buckle down and do the work that we have been talking about this campaign."

Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.