It’s a five-man race to become the next Lexington County sheriff.
Filing for the contest ended Monday, attracting fewer candidates than some county leaders expected.
The contest features four Republicans who will compete in the March 3 primary – Richland County Deputy Justin Britt, former police-officer-turned-teacher Ed Felix, assistant Lexington town police chief Jay Koon and West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall.
Then the winner of the GOP showdown will face independent challenger Jim Crawford in an April 21 election. No Democrat is running.
It’s a contest created after Sheriff James Metts stepped down in mid-December, shortly before pleading guilty to a federal charge stemming from his interference with the handling of two illegal immigrants in 2011 at the jail he formerly supervised.
The choice of voters will serve through 2016.
Felix, 52, is the last candidate to enter the contest.
He promises changes that he says will “bring some credibility back to the sheriff’s office after the black eye it received.”
Felix knows many of the approximately 270 county deputies from training them when he was an instructor at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy.
Meanwhile, Britt called for oversight of the county jail to be transferred elsewhere so deputies can focus on the “main mission of providing effective law enforcement.” He made no recommendation on who should run the jail, saying county leaders should look at several options while letting the 120 staff members know their jobs are safe.
Koon has received just over $30,000 in donations since entering the race a month ago, according to a report Monday from his campaign to the State Ethics Commission. His report was the only one available.
The 55 contributions include $500 from S.C. Chamber of Commerce president and former gubernatorial aide Ted Pitts and $1,000 each from 18 lawyers, farmers and business owners, the report says.
Koon has been endorsed by interim Sheriff Lewis McCarty, who made a $200 contribution.
McCarty came out of retirement to accept appointment June 17 to the post temporarily after Metts was suspended.