Sheriff, Clerk of Court Candidates Have Their Say

Last week The Voice gave the floor to candidates for the District 41 State House candidates. This week, candidates for Sheriff and for Clerk of Court share their thoughts with our readers. The primary will be held June 12, with a runoff on June 19 if necessary.

On June 12, voters will select a Fairfield County Sheriff to serve a four-year term. The candidates are Will Montgomery, Eddie L. Big Ed White and incumbent Herman W. Young.

Candidates for Fairfield County Clerk of Court, which is a four-year term, are incumbent Betty Jo Beckham and challenger Dorothy Boyd Belton.

The Independent Voice of Fairfield County contacted the candidates and asked each to respond to a short questionnaire, which was based on the office being sought.

Fairfield County Sheriff

What is your current place of employment?

Will Montgomery – I work for Richland County Sheriff Department as a Senior Corporal. I went to work for Sheriff Lott in 2002 after receiving a degree in criminal justice from the University of S.C.

Eddie L. “Big Ed” White – I am currently a Shift Supervisor at the Winnsboro Department of Public Safety.

Herman W. Young – Sheriff of Fairfield County.

What do you believe is the role of the County Sheriff?

Montgomery – It is the Sheriff’s responsibility to work for each and every resident of Fairfield County; provide equality in law enforcement, protection, safety and availability. It is his duty to be a person with leadership qualities that will make his department the best it can be.

White – There are several roles for being a County Sheriff, but one of the most important is ensuring the safety of all of the citizens. I feel strongly that the Sheriff should be made accessible to the people and the communication lines should remain open. The Sheriff has the role of providing professional law enforcement and a law enforcement agency that conducts business fairly with integrity. I will require my deputies to conduct themselves professionally at all times.

Young – The role of The Fairfield County Sheriff is to oversee and ensure that the laws and ordinances of the state and county are enforced. The Sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer of the county. The Sheriff is responsible for upholding all aspects of the law. He is not just a public figure who is allowed to carry a gun and badge, but a representative who enforces the law as well as practices it.

What do you believe is the main priority for the Sheriff Office staff currently?

Montgomery – Every law enforcement office main priority should be to protect and serve all citizens throughout the county.

White – I cannot answer for or speak for the current administration. One of the main priorities under my administration staff will be to keep our citizens informed and protected. I believe if we all work together, increase deputy’s visibility, update the Sheriff’s office with the latest crime fighting tools, and put more deputies on the road we can make a positive difference.

Young – I feel that the main priority for the sheriff’s office staff is to continue to provide the best law enforcement services to the community. I believe my staff is doing an excellent job keeping major crimes in Fairfield County at a minimum. We stay involved with the community and work diligently to keep our citizens safe.

What changes will you implement in the upcoming term?

Montgomery – Restructure the deputy positions for more visibility and communication with the citizens in the neighborhoods, implement programs to ensure involvement in the community with the youth, adults, and senior citizens, have a stronger working relationship with surrounding agencies, education and Training Programs for employees and recognize them for good performance, complaints against the department will be investigated and acted upon in a timely manner and implement a check and balance system in all areas of the department.

White – I will put the deputies in the communities and create more of a pro-active agency, and when we do have to react I will cut down on response times. I plan to add a telephone system to help keep citizens informed. I think much of our success will depend on the Sheriff’s Department working closely with our citizens. I will keep the communication lines open and I will make my self available to all citizens. I will install senior citizens programs and take an active role in ensuring their safety.  I will add a Search and Rescue Unit equipped with a Mounted Horse Patrol Team, as well as a combination Road & Boat Patrol resident deputy on Lake Wateree.

Young – I would like to add a traffic unit. With the future increase in traffic flow expected due to SCE&G adding two nuclear reactors, I believe Fairfield County will see an increase in population. Plans have already been discussed with county officials about future needs.

What is the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office doing right?

Montgomery –Fairfield county Sheriff’s Department has a wealth of resource including manpower that can be utilized to make Fairfield County Sheriff’s Dept. the best in South Carolina.

White – One thing is they do employ some good law enforcement officers that care about Fairfield County. I would ask many of these deputies’ to continue serving once I am elected.

Young – We strive to do the best job that we can. Because of budget constraints we are not always able to obtain everything we would like to have. However, through our allowed budget and grants, we are able to have the equipment that we need to operate efficiently. Not only are we out patrolling 24 hours a day and enforcing the laws and protecting the community, we are checking on our elderly citizens through our home alone program; we conduct our annual week- long kids camp through donations and volunteers. We help with projects at local nursing homes; we are involved with neighborhoods setting up crime watch groups. We have School Resource officers and DARE instructors in the schools. We conduct security checks on citizen’s property and businesses. Working together with the citizens and staying involved with the community keeps crime in Fairfield County at a minimum. As your Sheriff, I can assure you this trend will continue.

Fairfield County Clerk of Court

What is your current place of employment?

Betty Jo Beckham – I am the current Clerk of Court and Register of Deeds for Fairfield County. This office is located in the basement of the Courthouse.

Dorothy Boyd Belton did not return the questionnaire.

What do you believe is the role of the Clerk of Court?

Beckham – To correctly record, maintain and preserve all land, civil, criminal, family court records and any liens and judgments that would affect a person’s credit report. Being able to render these records available for the public and assist with inquires concerning these records. To assist all judges and attorneys in our judicial circuit by preparing court rosters for jury and non-jury trials and sending roster notifications to attorneys in a timely manner. To notify jurors for each term of common pleas and general sessions court. We do have a call in system that allows jurors to go to work if they do not have to report for jury duty.

What is your background, and how is it relevant to the Clerk of Court
position?

Beckham – My background is 34 years experience in the Clerk of Court/Register of Deeds Office and 11 years experience as Clerk of Court.

Are there changes that should take place in the Clerk of Court office, and if so, what?

Beckham – We are mandated by the S.C. Court Administration as to procedures in this office. We get updates from them on a regular basis. One thing I would like to update is getting our land records online. This is something that I am looking into. I would also like to have a tax intercept procedure for criminal fines and fees.