Rhodes wins runoff for sheriff’s race | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | June 29, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: June 29, 2016 at 11:02 am
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
Former Walterboro Police Chief Otis Rhodes will take on Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland in November.
Rhodes received the most votes in the Democratic runoff election held Tuesday.
When the votes were counted by the Colleton County Voter Registration and Election Office Tuesday evening, Rhodes received 1,006 votes, 52.78 percent.
His opponent, Dolphus Pinckney collected 900 votes, 47.22 percent.
The runoff between Pinckney and Rhodes saw the turnout for the election shrink.
The June 14th primary elections for the Democrats and Republicans saw 3,190 ballots cast — a turn-out of 13.06 percent of registered voters.
The runoff, with only the Democratic sheriff’s candidates race on the ballot, saw 7.52 percent turnout — only 1,913 of the county’s eligible voters went to the polls.
Two weeks ago, Rhodes received 1,015 votes, 43.77 percent. Pinckney received 891, 38.42 percent.
With none of the candidates in the four-person race on June 14 receiving more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election was needed.
Rhodes and a small group of supporters spent Tuesday night at the election office, keeping a running tally of the votes as each precinct vote was released.
About midway through the vote, Chris Lovelace, who finished third in the June 14 race, joined Rhodes’ team to check on the results.
After the June 14 election, Lovelace threw his support behind Rhodes’ candidacy.
Lovelace, a member of the Cottageville Police Department and Cottageville area resident, won the Cottageville, Maple Cane and Edisto Beach precincts on June 14.
Cottageville and Maple Cane precincts voters voted in higher numbers for Rhodes in the runoff.
Edisto Beach’s eight voters split evenly with each candidate picking up four votes.
Pinckney and his supporters arrived at the election office near the end of the vote count, spent a few minutes examining the precinct numbers and left.
The lobby of the election office cleared out before the count was finalized. Edisto Beach poll workers were delayed in getting their numbers to the election office to be counted.
When they phoned the office to report the delay, they told election officials eight votes had been cast.
Rhodes and his supporters left the lobby secure in the knowledge that the Edisto Beach votes would have no effect on the final outcome.
Rhodes spent much of the time pacing the parking lot and talking on the phone .
When he learned he was victorious, Rhodes said, “I worked hard. It was a clean race. I came out on top.”
Rhodes said he believed his victory was the result of his experience in law enforcement and his community involvement.
“It was my leadership and what I have done in the community. I think the people saw that and voted for the right person,” he offered.
As he moves on to attempt to unseat Strickland, Rhodes said, his tactics for the November election won’t change.
“I will run on my record, my experience — that won’t change,” Rhodes said. “It is the fair way, the honest way. That is the way to do it.
“I will continue to work, work even harder. I am going to be honest to myself, honest with the people. I am going to do the right thing,” he said.
The race between Strickland and Rhodes for sheriff was something that could have happened in 2012.
“I thought about it four years ago,” Rhodes said. He was serving as Walterboro Public Safety Director at the time. He decided not to run because “I had some unfinished business with the city. I had some really great employees, and we were going through some tough times. I had issues with management at the city — we know how that turned out.” He was removed from the position.
If Rhodes had decided to run in 2012, he would have been pitted against Strickland in the Democratic primary.
This year, he decided to run because “I think that some things can still be accomplished for the county, things that I can get accomplished,” Rhodes said.
“I love being involved in my community. I love Colleton County. I know that we have some great things that are going to be happening in Colleton County. I just want to be a part of it — that’s why I chose to run.”