SC sheriff unexpectedly drops out of election; wife runs instead uncontested

On Tuesday, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson shocked many by officially taking his name off of November’s ballot. Instead, a different Tolson, his wife Beth, announced her bid for office on the last day of filing.

Channel 9′s Tina Terry spoke with the couple about the decision that is drawing a lot of questions.

The couple told Terry that the timing was all a coincidence, and a recent job opportunity prompted this decision. However, some in the community say it was one that should have been made weeks ago.

“This is something new that hasn’t happened in York County; we’ve never seen anything happen like this, I don’t think,” said York County Democratic Party Chair Nikita L. Jackson. “The question that I have is, why didn’t we have a Democrat on the ticket to run?”

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Democratic House Member John Richard King, who represents York County, said potential candidates may have decided not to run out of respect for Kevin Tolson, who has served for nearly eight years.

“There is typically respect by citizens not to run against incumbents, especially incumbents that are doing a good job, and if the citizens have put that trust in any of us who are elected officials, I think that we should be very transparent with them in letting them know if we are not running to allow other people who chose to run,” King said.

On Tuesday, the sheriff told Channel 9 that he had every intention of running to serve for another four years.

“And then last week I was offered the opportunity to travel around the country and start law enforcement assistance programs called LEAP,” Kevin Tolson said.

He said after much conversation, he decided to take the job and his wife, who has well over two decades of experience in law enforcement, decided to run for the seat.

“If somebody wanted to run against me, they could have filed to run against me. This opportunity came up and this is how we decided to do it. It was a game time decision,” Kevin Tolson explained.

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Beth Tolson said her father ran the sheriff’s office for 20 years and her husband ran it for nearly eight. She said she also worked for the department from around 1992 until about the time her husband took office.

She said she des not know everything but has a great knowledge base to draw from. And while there aren’t any challengers now, due to filing being closed, it is still possible for someone to launch a write-in campaign for the seat.

Channel 9 will provide updates if any challengers emerge in the coming months.

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