It's unfortunate that negative campaigning is predictable in sheriff's elections, usually from the side that feels the most threatened. Carl Langley once told me that you shouldn't wrestle in the mud with a pig because you and the pig both get dirty, but only the pig enjoys it!
Going against that advice, I feel the need to wrestle with a couple of items of misinformation that have appeared in the media.
When I announced my retirement, I endorsed Jody Rowland as the most capable candidate to take the Aiken County Sheriff's Office forward in service to the people of the county. At the same time, I petitioned Gov. Mark Sanford to appoint Jody Rowland as interim sheriff for the good of the public and the good of the sheriff's office.
These endorsements were carried in detail by the print and broadcast media. For anyone to say I haven't endorsed Mr. Rowland for sheriff reveals an ignorance of the facts, or a political bias.
During my tenure as sheriff, by policy, I reviewed all off-duty employment requests. This was done to ensure that no conflicts of interest would arise between a deputy's responsibilities and the off-duty job.
I was fully aware of, and approved, Chief Deputy Rowland's off-duty repossession activities, in which he used his personal vehicle. His use of the sheriff's office vehicle was limited to official duties, which included supporting state and federal investigations as a nationally recognized expert on Irish Traveler crime. Those investigations occasionally took him legally and justifiably into other jurisdictions. He fully briefed me on those investigative activities and travels.
(Interim) Sheriff Rowland has my full confidence and endorsement with his constructive, progressive changes and more open leadership style. Negative tactics and misinformation reveal far more about the people who feel the need to use them than they reflect on Mr. Rowland.
I have already cast my absentee ballot for Jody Rowland, and I fully endorse his integrity, concern for people, experience, maturity, leadership and ability to serve as Aiken County sheriff. Under Mr. Rowland, the sheriff's office will be capable of meeting future law-enforcement challenges while serving Aiken County citizens better and better.
Howard L. Sellers, Aiken, S.C.
(Editor's note: The writer is the recently retired sheriff of Aiken County, S.C.)
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