Decision 2020: Darlington sheriff, former Hartsville police chief face off in Democratic primary

Decision 2020: Darlington sheriff, former Hartsville police chief face off in Democratic primary

DARLINGTON, S.C. (WMBF) - Primary elections are only a week away, so the Democratic candidates for the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office are out campaigning across the county as election day nears.

Darlington County Sheriff Tony Chavis and former Hartsville police chief James Hudson Jr. are set to face off for the Democratic nomination.

Chavis has served as sheriff since 2017 and has served in law enforcement since 1988.

He said when he arrived at the sheriff’s office three years ago, it was broken.

Chavis said they’ve worked very hard to fix it by providing raises to all employees, body cameras for his deputies and correctional officers, and replacing bulletproof vests which he said had been expired for 20 years.

He said he is most proud of what he’s been able to do in the community through their summer feeding program where they partner with the Darlington County School District to provide meals to students during the break.

The sheriff’s office also just began its summer cooling project where they provide fans and air conditioners to those in need.

“We also want to grow in our community and build those relationships within our community. We are working with ministers and stuff. We’re working with our community leaders, and that’s how you grow your community and strengthen those bonds, and I love it because there is no service you can have to serve your community,” said Chavis.

Chavis said the most important thing in running a sheriff’s office is integrity and selfless service, which he believes he’s shown over the last few years.

“Selfless service. You do your job without wanting anything in return. It’s the joy you get from doing your job. You can speak to my wife and over the last three years she hasn’t heard me complain about being the sheriff of Darlington County. I love being the sheriff of Darlington County and I love serving the people of Darlington County,” said Chavis.

Chavis’s challenger, Hudson, also knows about running a law enforcement agency as he formerly served as the Hartsville chief of police and the chief deputy of the sheriff’s office.

Hudson said his law enforcement experience has taught him to surround himself with people who care about the community, which has led to his long career in law enforcement.

If elected, Hudson wants to implement coverage zones so deputies can respond to calls faster.

He also wants to reach out to community members to solve their problems directly.

“Hear from the people and find out what their problems are and what they’d like to see done differently, not all those things can be done, but you want to find out from people in those communities what needs to be done and then you begin to work with them to put some plans in place and try and get things done,” said Hudson.

Hudson said he has the skills to do this job and since his career began he’s had people grooming him for the sheriff’s office.

“I believe this has been brought forth by God, so it’s my time to serve and everything I think society says you have to have, I think I’ve got it. The law enforcement experience, the education. All things you need to be a chief or sheriff, I have them,” said Hudson.

Candidates have held campaign rallies which are drawing a lot of community interest.

The people of Darlington County will make their voices heard on June 9.

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