Gov. Nikki Hailey has appointed Dunstan C. Padgett to be the interim sheriff for Fairfield County in the wake of Herman Young’s resignation Tuesday, citing health concerns as the reason.
Padgett, 48, of Winnsboro, was hired as a deputy sheriff on August 29, 1988 and has served with the department his entire law enforcement career. He served as a Lieutenant over the narcotics division before being promoted to the Lieutenant over the patrol division. Padgett was then promoted to Captain over the patrol division.
Padgett, whose father served for the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department for 20 years, is a father of four and has served in the National Guard for 27 years. He was deployed to Kosovo in 2004 and then served in Afghanistan as a Staff Sergeant from 2007 to 2008.
“I was here when we hired him. He is a great man and it was as great decision by the governor,” Chief Deputy Keith Lewis said.
Lewis, 58, said he plans to run for the sheriff’s position in a primary election set for Sept. 30. The special election will then be held on Nov. 25 according to the Governor’s Office.
Lewis said he began working with the Sheriff’s Department in 1977 “the same week that Elvis Presley died.”
Lewis moved to Texas and then moved back to Winnsboro in 1984 to join the Winnsboro Department of Public Safety. Lewis then returned to the Sheriff’s Department in 1988 as an investigator before finally being promoted to second-in-command in 2000.
Young, who became Fairfield County’s first black sheriff when he was elected in 1992, was selected by his peers as Sheriff of the Year and was nationally recognized for solving a 20-year-old murder case.
“This has not been an easy decision to make. On one hand, I have a strong passion to continue serving this great community that has supported me for so many years,” Young said in a news release. “On the other hand, I must think of my health and what really matters in life – my family.”
The Associated Press contributed. Reach Cahill at (803) 771-8305.