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A new day in law enforcement

Posted: November 16, 2010 5:22 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Sheriff-elect James O. Matthews, in the South Carolina Primary on June 8, 2010, changed the manner in which political and public business is conducted in Kershaw County. Mr. David Thomley was the county’s power broker’s choice for the next sheriff of Kershaw County. The odds in those circles were even that he would coast to an easy primary victory, and would easily prevail in the general election. After all, that was the way it had always been. The other Republican candidate was “not from around.” If there was a way not to conduct a political campaign Mr. Thomley diligently searched until he found that avenue. To paraphrase Mr. Thomley at the sheriff’s forum, he pointed out that he does not always speak to people, that he does not return telephone calls, and that in effect he is not a people person. Mr. Thomley chose the Rose Garden mode of campaigning. Sheriff-elect Matthews defeated him by a margin of two to one votes.

Mr. Sammie Tucker Jr. chose to run against Sheriff-elect Matthews in the general election. Mr. Tucker was outraged that his debt situations, bankruptcies, and failure to pay his taxes were considered a matter for public consumption. On the contrary, as one of Mr. Tucker’s supporters opined to this newspaper, Mr. Tucker displayed character and morality by choosing to pay his employees and not pay his debts and taxes. There was not any evidence that Mr. Tucker had paid his employees. Mr. Tucker failed to file his mandatory campaign documents. He will incur a $100 per day fine. Mr. Tucker stated in his interview, with this newspaper and the television station, that he did not think it necessary to make his situation public, and that is was brought up for “political purposes.” Mr. Tucker’s laments were puzzling. He did not appear to grasp the fact he was involved in a political race. Mr. Tucker did not explain how and from where the $2,900 to pay his filing fee was generated. The fact that Mr. Tucker assumed that in spite of all of his personal and legal baggage, the voters of Kershaw County would elect him county sheriff – the chief law enforcement officer of the county -- is amazing. Sheriff-elect Matthews defeated Mr. Tucker by a margin of two to one votes.

  Sheriff-elect Matthews has promised effective, professional, modern, and up-to-date law enforcement. He has promised to be transparent to the degree effective law enforcement will allow. He has promised to upgrade training. He has promised to dispose of the “good ‘ole boy system.” He has promised to eliminate tobacco. He has promised to enforce the law fairly and openly. He has stated that Kershaw County law enforcement can utilize the Richland County Crime Laboratory. That will expedite investigations.

   Sheriff-elect Matthews, effectively, has the fifth Herculean task of cleaning the Augean stables. The residents of Kershaw County must be his Alpheus and Peneus rivers. He cannot accomplish these tasks alone. Sheriff-elect Matthews stood for election; he deserves support.


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