Stivender responds to video criticism
by The Press and Standard | October 17, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: October 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm
Craig Stivender suggests the campaign video that aired last week was a tactical move in his bid to become Colleton County Sheriff.
Stivender said he wanted to talk publically about his indiscretions to give potential voters a concrete example of the transparency he promises in his campaign.
“It was my idea. I just felt it was something that would come up later on, so I’d like to put it out myself,” he explained.
Listing his litany of bad decisions, he said, was better than “someone else trying to bring it up and having me look like I was trying to hide something.
“Based on the feedback I’ve gotten, people are glad I got anything negative out of the way ahead of time — that I was forthcoming with any negative aspects that people could find,” Stivender said. “People won’t have to dig anymore to find any negative. I put it all out there for them.”
In a short portion of his campaign announcement video, Stivender talked about traffic tickets, a failed marriage and being reprimanded for missteps in his law enforcement career.
Then he talked about donning black face for a law enforcement Halloween party about decade ago, an admission complete with a photograph of Stivender in costume.
Stivender said his costume portrayed Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory, a Detroit-based drug kingpin who was convicted and sentenced to 30 years behind bars.
In his video, Stivender said, “I did it to disparage a criminal whose actions hurt our community and country.”
Stivender said about the time of the Halloween event he had learned about Flenory while watching “Gangland,” a television series.
Asked about his suggestion that Flenory had hurt our community, Stivender said Flenory had “moved a lot of drugs through the Atlanta area, which is where a ton of our drugs came through.
“That was 10 years ago,” Stivender said. “It was never my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings. There are things I would have done differently, but I can’t fix that now.”
“I’ve gotten some pretty nasty stuff,” Stivender said of some of the comments about his video. There have been calls for him to quit the sheriff’s race, suggestions that he does not belong in law enforcement. “Most of the negative stuff has been people from out of state,” he added.
“If everybody with a mistake in their past was not able to run (for office), who would run?” Stivender wondered. “Everyone has made mistakes, everybody has done things that they wish they could change, who wish they had done something differently.”
A decade later, Stivender said, “I’m not that person. You can’t judge me on one thing I did 10 years ago and say that is who I am, that is who I will always be and there is nothing I can do to change that.”
Stivender said what he wanted to talk about were his indiscretions to give potential voters a concrete example of the transparency he promises in his campaign.
Asked to reflect on his well-traveled campaign video five days after he placed it on his “Stivender for Sheriff” Facebook page, the candidate was most surprised by the level of media response.
“If there is a news channel in the United States, it has hit it,” Stivender said.