Republican candidates for Greenville Co. sheriff answer questions during public forum

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Republican field in the race for Greenville County sheriff has narrowed from five to two.

Hobart Lewis and A.T. “Tommy” Smith won the most votes in last week’s primary, and now they’ll compete in a runoff on Tuesday, January 21.

Both candidates spoke Thursday at a public forum.

“I’m the most qualified candidate,” Smith said. “Greenville County needs a seasoned professional law enforcement leader.”

“I’ve been here my whole life,” Lewis said. “I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on at the sheriff’s office.”

The two Republicans agreed on some issues. Many of those stemmed from a shortage of deputies.

Lewis said he would give deputies more financial stability.

“The money’s there and the money’s getting better,” he said. “What I would asked for is a long term commitment so that deputy’s working with the sheriff’s office know what they can expect two, three, four, five years down the road.”

Smith said he would work with Greenville County Council to get more funding.

“The need is to address this as we move forward and have a sheriff who will be proactive and make the case to county council and let them know what he needs,” he said.

Another issue the candidates addressed was drug cartels operating in the Upstate.

Smith suggested expanding a newly formed local drug unit.

“The sheriff’s office recently formed a multi-agency drug task force, so every agency in the county, all municipalities in the sheriff’s office are represented…I think we need to expand that a little bit,” he said.

Lewis said the sheriff’s office needs more manpower to tackle the issue.

“Our narcotics division is a skeleton crew as it ever has been before, so we certainly need to work with outside agencies,” he said. “We need some federal help, manpower help.”

The winner of the runoff election will go up against Democrat Paul Guy in the general election March 10.

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