PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Kevin Coppinger reacts as he enters the Porthole Restaurant following his victory in the race for Essex County Sheriff Tuesday.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — Kevin Coppinger has a new badge to honor: sheriff.
The Lynn police chief beat his Republican challenger and two Independent candidates on Tuesday night to become the next Essex County sheriff.
“I’m shell shocked,” Coppinger told his supporters at the Porthole Restaurant. “To everyone in this room, thank you from the bottom of my heart, it means so much to me for all the help everyone gave, from those that held signs, made phone calls and spoke of me positively, whatever it was, you really touched my heart. I am really encouraged and empowered to be the next greatest sheriff in Essex County.”
At press time, 68 of 240 precincts reported Coppinger ahead with 52,869 votes or 47 percent, Peabody City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin received 43,663 or 39 percent, Independents Mark Archer, a Lynn native and retired Massachusetts State Trooper who practices law, got 8,496 or 7 percent and Kevin Leach, a retired county commissioner, garnered 8,296 votes or 7 percent.
In Lynn, Coppinger trounced Manning-Martin with 23,542 votes or nearly 78 percent compared to the Republican who received 3,858 votes or 12.7 percent.
In Peabody where Manning-Martin is a City Council member, Coppinger received 12,064 votes to 11,736 for Manning-Martin. Saugus residents gave Coppinger 6,718 votes to 4,328 for Manning-Martin. In Marblehead, Coppinger received 5,857 votes to 4,073 for Manning-Martin.
Swampscott voters gave Coppinger 4,859 votes to 2,194 for Manning-Martin and Coppinger received 1,371 votes in Nahant to 576 for the Republican.
Coppinger lost Lynnfield, receiving 2,714 votes to 3,149 cast for Manning-Martin.
The race to replace retiring Sheriff Frank Cousins featured a lively campaign with several forums in which candidates promised to address recidivism and improve upon inmate drug treatment programs.
Coppinger said his goals include strengthening skills training and improving and expanding detox, opiate and mental health counseling programs.
He touted his skills in law enforcement, budgeting and communications and the support he received from fellow law enforcement officials nationwide.
Still, Coppinger said he will miss the Lynn Police Department.
“As sheriff of Essex County, Lynn will still be near and dear to my heart,” he said.
The 34 communities in Essex County stretch from Amesbury to West Newbury. The Essex County Sheriff’s Department oversees people awaiting trial as well as inmates convicted of crimes. As of Sept. 1, there were 1,850 prisoners under the sheriff’s custody.
In addition to the House of Correction in Middleton, the sheriff runs the facilities and offices in Lynn, Salem, Lawrence and Salisbury employing 620 people. The department’s budget is $66 million and the sheriff serves a six-year term and earns $152,000.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected].