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West wants to be Kershaw County’s next coroner

Posted: January 14, 2014 2:52 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.

David West said he has such respect for the men he worked for as a Kershaw County deputy coroner, that he waited until the current coroner decided not to run for reelection before officially putting his hat in the ring. West, who once served as deputy coroner for close to 15 years under former Coroner Tommy Horton and current Coroner Johnny Fellers, said he has wanted to be coroner for years.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t want to run against Tommy or Johnny,” West, 61, said. “Growing up, I knew who the coroners were -- Doc (A.W.) Humphries, Cecil Bowers, George Kornegay, Tommy Horton and, of course, Johnny Fellers.”

West said he met Humphries while working with the Camden rescue squad as a 16-year-old. Later, he served as Fellers’ chief deputy coroner when Fellers first took office 20 years ago.

“I held off from running after Johnny went back in,” West said of the 2010 election, “but about three years ago, I heard that we wasn’t going to run again. So, I called him up and asked him and he said he was thinking about hanging it up.”

At that point, West -- unofficially -- started putting out the word that he wanted to be Kershaw County Coroner. He created a placard for his truck, using it for the first time during the 2013 Podunk Festival’s parade in Elgin.

“But I didn’t want to come out officially as running until he officially announced that he wasn’t running again,” he said.

West has been in public service for 40 years. He worked for 10 years as a city of Camden fireman and then joined the S.C. Forestry Commission (SCFC). For the last nine years, he has been the SCFC’s law enforcement chief.

“I started out driving a bulldozer and I just got my 30-year pin in November,” he said.

West will retire Jan. 4, 2015.

“If I win,” he added with a chuckle. “I got permission to stay in while I’m running.”

In addition to his work with the SCFC, West has been co-owner of Brad’s Muffler in Camden for almost 37 years. While working with the city of Camden, he decided to get a job with Brad Layton, of Lugoff, who owned the shop.

“One day, he came in and said he was going to sell the shop. What was I going to do? I needed the job, so I ended up buying it from him. When I became the (SCFC) Kershaw County ranger, I had Kevin (Hill) buy into it.”

Serving Kershaw County in one capacity or another has become a family tradition. West and his wife of 35 years, the former Dale Lucas, have a son and two daughters, all married. They are grandparents to eight grandchildren. His son works for the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. One of his daughters works for the Kershaw County School District, while the other daughter works for First Palmetto Bank.

“And they all live in Kershaw County,” he said.

This year’s general election will take place Nov. 4.

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