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Bart Perrier defeats Eddie Virden in Sheriff’s Primary

Perrier faces no challenger in the upcoming November election and will be sworn in next January. He’ll be the first Osage citizen to hold the office.

Bart Perrier always knew he would be Sheriff. His law enforcement career began in 1997 in the Osage County Sheriff’s Department when he worked in the jail.

“We made history tonight,” Perrier said in front of supporters and family at the Osage Casino in Pawhuska when it was clear he’d nabbed the majority of the votes.

“In the history of this state we’ve never had a Sheriff in Osage county that was an Osage Indian,” Perrier concluded to claps and cheers. Perrier will serve a four-year term.

Perrier defeated two-term incumbent Eddie Virden with more than 65% percent of the vote.

He said he did by relentlessly campaigning and crossing the more than 2,000 square miles in the county.

“Truthfully, I’ve been running for Sheriff for 20 years,” Perrier told Osage News.

“That’s been a goal, the goal and I take every day as how are we going to achieve that goal.”

Perrier’s wife Julia said she’s watched her husband through the challenges of running for office while trying to rebuild their home that was lost in the recent tornado.

“I’m the one who gets flustered and he’s always been like, ‘what’s the next thing to do,’” Julia said.

Perrier’s law enforcement career began in 1997 as a detention officer in the original Osage County jail next to the courthouse. He graduated from CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) in 1999. He did a short stint with the Osage Nation police from 2001-2002 until returning to work in the Osage County Sheriff’s office as a deputy and an investigator until 2011. He currently works with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association as a special ranger and investigates “agriculture-related” crimes in Oklahoma and Texas.

“It’s always been when he would be Sheriff, not if he would be Sheriff,” said Perrier’s son Cash.

Bart Perrier and his campaign treasurer Megan Bills at his watch party at the Osage Casino in Pawhuska on June 18, 2024. ALLISON HERRERA/Osage News

The Perrier family has been in Osage County since 1872. Bart’s third great-grandfather Peter Perrier was the first Osage Nation Supreme Court Judge in 1888. He was a soldier in the Civil War and was with the Kansas Cavalry Volunteer from 1862-1865 before moving to Indian Territory in 1872.

Perrier currently lives on his great-grandfather Lee Perrier’s original allotment outside of Barnsdall. He recently lost his home during the devastating EF4 tornado that took two lives and destroyed 70 homes on May 5.

Perrier committed himself to run for the Osage County Sheriff’s office in 2021. He announced his candidacy early, in the spring of 2023. He said he did that because he wanted to get his name out there among the county’s more than 45,000 residents.

“I am a fix-it guy … we’re not going to stand on the sidelines and gripe about it,” Perrier said of his plans for the department. Perrier heard from voters they wanted someone who could increase manpower to respond to calls and be more present.

Perrier plans on working with the Osage Nation Police during his time as Sheriff.

“Cross-commission agreement with the Osage Nation Police is very vital,” Perrier said.

He also wants to help mend the county government. In 2023, current Sheriff Virden sued District Attorney Mike Fisher over a 1976 investigation of a missing Oklahoma girl named Cynthia Kinney.

Supporters at Perrier’s watch party were thrilled at the results and were excited to have someone they say they’ve known all their life in the office.

Jennifer Holding of Hominy said Perrier is someone who she’s seen out in the community and her family has known all their lives.

“I feel he is an upstanding guy and that he will do a great job being Sheriff,” Holding said.

“He’s very fair and a person that will do the right thing.”

The June 18 unofficial results show Perrier received 2,639 votes. Virden received 1,361 votes.

Bart Perrier will be sworn in January of 2025.

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Allison Herrera
Allison Herrerahttps://osagenews.org
Title: Freelance Reporter
Email: aherrera@osagenation-nsn.gov
Languages spoken: English

Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs Desk.

Herrera recently worked on Bloomberg and iHeart Media's In Trust with Rachel Adams-Heard, an investigative podcast about Osage Headrights.

She currently works for KOSU as their Indigenous Affairs Reporter. Herrera’s Native ties are from her Xolon Salinan tribal heritage.

In her free time, she likes buying fancy earrings, running and spending time with her daughter.

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