Voters pack auditorium for Lexington County sheriff candidate forum

Published: Feb. 25, 2015 at 4:34 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2015 at 4:34 AM EST
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - In one week, Lexington County voters will pick their first new sheriff in more than 40 years.

Voters nearly packed the Saluda Shoals auditorium Tuesday night to hear from the four candidates on the ballot.

Justin Britt, Edwin Felix, Jay Koon and Dennis Tyndall all talked about the changes needed at the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.

One question asked: how they would work to improve trust between the department and the minority community.

Britt: When people want to talk to the sheriff, they should be able to talk to the sheriff, that's why I've also said I want to have 10 minute meetings once a month what people can come in let's come back to my office and let's talk, I don't want people to come to the sheriff's office until like the wrong one side of the glass and we're on the other side.

Felix: We need a sheriff that listens, that is proactive, who belongs to the community that's what we need, sheriff that looks for the communities trust and wants the communities trust every day not just every 4 years

Koon: We have to go in all corners of the county this county is very diverse the issues are different all across the county you have to go in and talk to the leaders and the people in that community and find out what their issues and concerns are and Taylor your law-enforcement to relate to those issues."

Tyndall: It's very important that the officers do interact with the community I think resident deputies is a good idea, resident deputies live in a community they work they get to know the people get to trust them and people give them information they need to have.

The candidates also answered questions about improving department morale, fighting gangs and their position on pending domestic violence legislation.

The latest campaign finance reports from the four candidates for Lexington sheriff show Jay Koon with a wide lead in fundraising and spending.

But the latest information filed with state ethics paints a more detailed picture of where the money's coming from and what the other candidates are up against.

The new reports tell us Koon took in more than $84,000 just in the six weeks starting a few days into January. Almost $17,000 or about 20 percent of that money in donations of $100 or less.

Koon also got the maximum individual contribution of a $1,000 from 27 donors, some of those identified as businesses.

In between other donation levels including $250 from a Nikki R. Haley, occupation listed as governor.

Koon's spending also indicates he's a serious contender.

About $28,000 in expenditures for campaign consultant services, most of the money to Starboard Communications in Lexington.

An established firm headed by political operative Walter Whetsell which has also worked on state and national GOP campaigns.

Koon also has the money to start running TV ads.

The new disclosure reports now show a much tighter race for the number two slot.

Of the three remaining candidates, Richland County deputy Justin Britt raised the most money in that six week period, edging out West Columbia Chief Dennis Tyndall by more than $5,000 and bringing Britt dead even with Tyndall in fundraising since the campaign began.

Both working with political or marketing companies, but spending on a much smaller scale compared to Koon.

Fourth candidate Ed Felix is a distant fourth in financing, his report showing more than 80 percent of his funding has come out of his own pocket.

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