Decision 2020: Candidates face off in hotly contested race for the Florence Co. Sheriff’s Office

Four candidates vying for sheriff in Florence County

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Four candidates are vying for the chance to serve as the next sheriff of Florence County.

Current Chief Deputy of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office Glen Kirby and TJ Joye will be facing off in the Republican primary.

Darrin Yarborough and Jody Lynch are set to compete in the Democratic primary.

One of the candidates will replace interim Sheriff Billy Barnes, who took over after former Sheriff Kenney Boone was arrested and then removed from office after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement and misconduct in office.

Kirby has served in law enforcement for 33 years and spent the last seven years as chief deputy of the sheriff’s office.

Kirby said in the last six months they have reallocated their manpower to provide more law enforcement presence to high crime areas, and are focusing their narcotics agents more on drug distribution, which he said has lowered the crime rate in Florence County.

Kirby is running on accountability.

He said he’s worked to put a stop to public corruption in the county, including the sheriff’s office where they’ve held former members accountable for corruption.

Kirby said he’s got the right experience to be the next sheriff.

“Been the chief deputy for the last seven years where I’ve worked with a $19 million budget, worked closely with other people at the office to handle that. I have the right experience. It’s not the same coming outside this agency and trying to run a sheriff’s office. It’s a totally different kind of law enforcement," said Kirby.

Kirby’s primary challenger, TJ Joye, has worked in law enforcement for 31 years.

He began as a military police officer in the Army, then became a sheriff’s deputy and most recently worked for the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Joye is running his campaign on transparency.

He said he wants the public to be able to trust the sheriff’s office and wants to hold the office accountable.

If elected, Joye intends to enhance patrols and investigations.

“We’re having nine deputies per shift or eight or seven, whatever the case may be at times, and at times they get tied up. We need 14 per shift, also we need to enhance our investigations. There are a lot of things we can cut through this office that can enhance our divisions," said Joye.

Democratic candidate, Darrin Yarborough, has worked in law enforcement for nearly 25 years and is a former captain for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

Yarborough said the patrol divisions serve on the front lines of the community, so if elected he wants to build those divisions up.

As sheriff, he said he wants to push Florence County to its highest potential.

Yarborough said he wants to be available and present to the residents of Florence County.

“I want to be that type of sheriff where people can see me just like you’re seeing me now. In Bazens (Restaurant), in Walmart, in the community. People need to see their leaders, so that’s one thing I want to bring to the sheriff’s office is I want the community to be in contact with their leaders," said Yarborough.

Democratic candidate, Jody Lynch, began her law enforcement career as a member of security forces for the U.S. Air Force.

After her military career, Lynch served with the Florence Police Department and Florence County Sheriff’s Office before starting her own security company.

If elected, Lynch wants to start a resident deputy program which would assign deputies to specific county districts, so community members can have a deputy they know to help handle problems.

Community presence is a big deal to Lynch, and she said she wants to make sure the citizens of Florence County know who is protecting them.

“I want it to be where people can come out and see the sheriff, they can come out and see investigations, they can see the people because that office is their office because the citizens of Florence County are the ones paying for that office and they should have the right to go out to that office,” said Lynch.

The primary elections will be held on June 9, and early voting is currently available.

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