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The Democrats held onto Salt Lake County's two top law enforcement positions, according to unofficial election returns Tuesday.

Sim Gill, seeking a second term as the county's district attorney, defeated prosecutor Steve Nelson, a Republican challenger from within his own office, taking 102,655 votes or 52 percent to Nelson's 93,733 votes or 48 percent.

In another intra-agency battle, two-term Democratic Sheriff Jim Winder, whose position also puts him atop the Unified Police Department, captured a sizable victory after a spirited campaign against Jake Petersen, a UPD lieutenant.

Gill received 119,607 votes or 61 percent to Nelson's 76,725 votes or 39 percent.

Gill, 53, has been a high-profile player in his four years in office. He teamed with Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, a Republican, in filing 21 felony counts against former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow.

He also charged former West Valley City Detective Shaun Cowley with manslaughter in the fatal 2012 shooting of Danielle Willard, then asked the attorney general's office to appeal a 3rd District judge's decision last month to dismiss that count without a trial.

Gill's pursuit of that case angered some law-enforcement personnel, who supported the 39-year-old Nelson as more of a law-and-order type of figure.

Nelson also does not have much regard for "early case resolution," a program pushed by Gill and others to keep people accused of low-level crimes out of jail. The Republican argued the program doesn't work and that it results in released inmates coming back into the system for worse offenses.

Saying "this has been a very difficult race in a lot of ways," Winder said late Tuesday that "we're going to work even harder in the next four years than we have in the last eight."

He has advocated early case resolution and related efforts to cut inmate recidivism. He touted his efforts to find alternative treatments for the jail's mentally ill inmates, the establishment of the UPD and his efforts to consolidate the valley's two 911 emergency-response systems as reasons voters should give him a third term.

In other county races, Clerk Sherrie Swensen secured a seventh term with an easy victory over Republican Wanda Amann, while Kevin Jacobs, who became assessor in 2013 after Lee Gardner left the county, beat Democrat Tyler Andrus. Republicans Wayne Cushing (treasurer), Gary Ott (recorder) and Reid Demman (surveyor) also were re-elected.

The closest race of the night was for county auditor, where Republican Scott Tingley trailed early against Democrat Jeff Hatch before rallying for a 1,300-vote victory.

Twitter: @sltribmikeg