Walterboro Police Lt. Craig Stivender joins the 2020 race for Colleton’s sheriff
by The Press and Standard | March 21, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: March 20, 2019 at 9:04 am
“My goal is going to be Cleaning Up Colleton,” said Craig Stivender, who has publicly announced that he will run for Colleton County Sheriff next year. “That is going to be my catch phrase.”
The primaries for the county offices on the November 2020 ballot won’t be until the spring of 2020. The period for filing a statement of candidacy will be shortly after the New Year.
“My intention was not to come out so early,” said Stivender, who is currently a captain with the Walterboro Police Department. He is in charge of the city police department’s Investigations and Road Patrol Divisions.
He changed his mind after learning two other potential candidates, Adolphus Pinckney and Tony Buchanan, made their intentions known.
With the other candidates out seeking supporters, Stivender said he ran the risk of losing potential support by not announcing.
Stivender said he will file to run in the Republican primary, the same primary that Pinckney and Buchanan are reportedly considering. R.A. Strickland, the incumbent sheriff, ran as a Republican four years ago.
Stivender said he considers both Pinckney and Buchanan friends. They share a common goal, he said, “to replace what we have got now.”
Stivender said, “I don’t think it should be a partisan position.” But to make a viable run for sheriff, he had to choose a party. He decided on the Republican Party, Stivender said, because “it most closely aligns with my morale beliefs. As a Christian man, I have to go with the Republican Party. I don’t agree with everything they do, but they most closely align with me.”
This week saw Stivender unveil his campaign’s social media presence, putting up his web page, Stivender for Sherifff.com, and his Facebook site, Stivenderforsheriff.
Born and raised in Cottageville, Stivender graduated from Walterboro High School and then began pursuing a degree in English at the College of Charleston.
He spent his freshman year on campus and then decided he would commute from Cottageville to class.
Then working and money became a priority and he left the classroom and began doing plumbing work. The plan was to spend a year or two learning about the job, obtain his plumbing license and then take over the business.
Even though plumbing offered a steady income, Stivender said it was “not where my heart was.”
“Law enforcement was something I had always liked as a child growing up,” he explained. That interest didn’t dim. “That is what I really wanted to do.”
He talked it over with former Cottageville Police Chief Ray Taylor, who gave him a chance to go to the academy and begin his law enforcement career as a member of the Cottageville Police Department in 2005.
He stayed there for a year and then signed on with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and worked there for approximately four years before becoming a member of the Walterboro Police Department. He has been with the city department for nine years. He began in road patrol, then investigations, then and narcotics investigation. When Police Chief Wade Marvin took over the city police department, he promoted Stivender to lieutenant and put him in charge of the investigations division. He was then promoted to captain, becoming third in the chain of command for the city police department.
In his 14 years of law enforcement, Stivender said, “my goal was always to eventually run for sheriff. I never put a time-frame on it, it was just my goal. When you get into a career, you always want to be the best in your career, and I feel like in order to be the best, you have to be a leader,” Stivender said.
“At this point in time, I believe I have got the experience. I have worked my way up through the ranks through several departments, done my entire career in law enforcement in Colleton County, and I just feel like Colleton County deserves a leader at this point in time that will stand up for what is right. They need a man of probity, someone with high moral integrity,” Stivender said. “Leadership starts from the top. If people are not leading correctly, then people underneath them follow suit.”
“I feel like our county deserves a leader who is focused on fixing the problems at hand in Colleton County,” he added.
Stivender, 36, and his wife Rebecca have been married for six years and have three children together.
Stivender said, “I am who I am. A member of Cottagevillle Baptist Church, where I have been a deacon for probably 10 years and I teach adult Sunday school class. I’m a member of Jenkins Hunting Club. A family man, placing God and family before anything else, I’m not going to change or do anything different from that.”