Meet your Candidates for Greenville Clerk of Court and Sheriff

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This episode of Simple Civics: Greenville County was made possible by support from Beth and Mike Andrews, supporting civic engagement from all of our community’s residents, and Upstate Warrior Solution, a community-based nonprofit organization serving warriors and their families in the upstate of South Carolina, and LiveWell Greenville, bridging access to healthy eating and active living since 2011.

Meet Brice Garrett and Jay Gresham, candidates for Greenville County Clerk of Court. Also meet Mike Fortner and Hobart Lewis, candidates for Greenville County Sheriff. In this episode, each candidate has 10 minutes to introduce themselves to the voters. Your vote is so important! Please take a listen and share with your neighbors.

Clerk of Court Links:

Brice Garrett

Jay Gresham

Sheriff Links:

Mike Fortner

Hobart Lewis

Sample Ballot

Transcript

Katy Smith:
On Tuesday, June 11th, South Carolina holds its statewide primary elections. On this episode, we feature two races for office in this primary, Greenville County Sheriff and Greenville County Clerk of Courts. The Clerk of Court serves circuit court and family court. Their primary role is to safeguard the integrity of all records and make available to the public all case documents that can be viewed by law, such as civil, criminal, and some domestic relations cases. The clerk’s role is also to assist other court officers, including attorneys and judges, and ensuring that all the court processes, along with the business of the courthouse, are executed smoothly. But first, a quick primer on why primaries are so important. The statewide primaries are when political parties choose their candidates to be on the ballot in the general election on November 5th, when we will also vote for president. This primary on June 11th will be for important offices like state legislature, which discusses things such as roads and bridges, education, taxes, abortion, and guns, our county sheriff, and our county council, which considers issues such as zoning, roads, public safety, and more.

Katy Smith:
In the Greenville County area, we have 37 offices across the county that will be on primary ballots. For almost half of those, only one party had candidates that registered to run, meaning that practically speaking, the June 11th primary is the election. In South Carolina, we don’t register to vote by party and all primaries are open, meaning that you are free to vote either the Republican or Democratic primary ballot. Of course, there are other parties, but they do not have a primary in our state. We did an episode that explains how this works and we’ll link it in the show notes for you. Only Republican candidates filed to run for Clerk of Court. So based on the outcome of the June 11th Republican primary, either Brice Garrett or Jay Gresham will be the only candidate on the ballot in November and thus essentially the winner. If you want to see which district you live in and who will be on your ballot, you can check out the links on the episode page for a sample ballot from the South Carolina Election Commission. Here’s how the interviews worked. All candidates received the same question at the time of their invitation to join us, and they were given 10 minutes for their interview. Candidates were allowed to bring along a companion, such as a campaign manager, family member, or friend, and to record our session themselves. There were no edits made to the interview. We’ve put links to the participating candidates’ preferred internet presence on the episode page. We’ll begin this episode with Greenville County Clerk of Courts.

Katy Smith:
First up is incumbent Brice Garrett. I’m pleased to be joined today by Brice Garrett, who is running for re-election for the Office of Clerk of Courts in Greenville County. Brice, thanks so much for joining us.

Brice Garrett:
Thank you for having me today.

Katy Smith:
Well, first tell us about yourself and why you are running for re-election.

Brice Garrett:
I was born and raised in Greenville. When my predecessor, Paul Wickensimer, decided to retire last summer, I was appointed by the governor to succeed him as your Clerk of Court. It’s been an honor to serve in this role for the last 10 months. This was a calling for me, and I believe God put me in this role for a reason, and that is to serve. This is a senior management position, not a political stepping stone. There’s no agenda for me other than serving as your Clerk of Court, providing the best service possible to you, our customers. I have over 25 years experience in management and several private sector capacities which provided me the skillset to be compassionate and fair.

Katy Smith:
What do you believe are the biggest issues that are facing the county?

Brice Garrett:
If someone without management experience is elected into this role, it will be a disaster. As Clerk of Court, you must remain neutral and unbiased. I manage over 80 people between two locations, circuit court and family court. Providing continuity is very important. Bridging the gap between politics and administration, promoting collaboration across jurisdictions is key. It takes numerous departments to make us all successful. As Clerk of Court, we do not make our own rules. We follow policies and procedures from court administration in Columbia. Please be aware that if anyone tells you they’re coming in to make changes, this is simply false.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What would be your priorities if re-elected this year?

Brice Garrett:
Well, I’m so proud to tell you that we are the best in the state and have been for many years. Greenville Clerk of Court offices are the gold standard for South Carolina. This gold standard is replicated statewide. Providing great service to our internal and external contacts would continue to be my priority. We have the best courtroom technology in the state. I will continue to collaborate with court administration in Columbia, along with all other county departments, so that we’re providing the best services possible. When the Clerk of Court fulfills their responsibilities, everyone benefits. Please don’t be misled if someone tells you we are not the best, because we are.

Katy Smith:
We have a couple more minutes. Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Brice Garrett:
Please vote on June 11th. It’s so important in the primaries. The Clerk of Court is the connection that brings together various components of court operations to create efficiency needed to enable courts to carry out their duties. And again, this is a senior management position, and I know I’m the person for this role.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much for your willingness to serve.

Brice Garrett:
Thank you.

Katy Smith:
Next up is Jay Gresham. I’m pleased to be here with Jay Gresham, candidate for Clerk of Court in Greenville County. Thanks so much for joining us, Jay.

Jay Gresham:
Thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
Great. Tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

Jay Gresham:
Well, as you said, I’m Jay Gresham, and I’m a Greenville County native. I hail from the dark corner area of our county, or northern Greenville County to be exact. Then I went to Christ Church Episcopal School, grew up there. That’s my church school. Went to Christ Church Episcopal, which is right downtown Greenville. My family’s worshipped there for a long time. And then after leaving or graduating Christ Church, I went on to go to the Citadel in Charleston, where I graduated with two degrees, both with honors, and was a cadet officer, commanded over 100 men and women at the age of 22. And then after the Citadel, I went on to the University of Wyoming College of Law in Laramie, Wyoming, where I graduated with my Juris Doctorate degree.

Jay Gresham:
It was a great experience out west, I loved it. And then I came home after my three years and took the bar exam. Passed it. Fortunately it was the first time for me which must be– I joke and tell all my republican friends it’s a republican thing because John F. Kennedy Jr. and Hillary Clinton took multiple times past the bar but one time for me. And then became a licensed attorney in four states, South Carolina, North Carolina, Wyoming, and Montana, and practicing here in South Carolina. I clerked for our longtime circuit court judge here in Greenville, Edward Miller, often called Ned. He was the chief administrative judge at that time for Pickens in Greenville. And then I’m on to my current position as assistant solicitor under solicitor Walt Wilkins, our elected solicitor. And I’m tasked with prosecuting mostly traffic-related crimes, such as hit and runs with death, reckless homicides, felony DUIs, things of that nature. But I’ve prosecuted every crime imaginable from murder, drug trafficking, shoplifting, you name it. I’ve prosecuted that crime.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the people of our community?

Jay Gresham:
Well, one of the biggest issues facing the Clerk of Court’s office, which is what I’m running for, is that I believe the office is significantly lacking in terms of modern capabilities, which has prompted my run. And I think that’s crucial to have someone that has been in the courtroom, understands the technological capabilities that we should have, but that’s in comparison to certain counties within our state, especially the ones with a large population base, such as Charleston. And that’s what I want to achieve when I am Clerk of Court, to make us more modern and have a greater access for the public to access those public records, those court documents of which, of course, the Clerk of Court is tasked with managing. I want to implement something very similar to what Charleston has called Court Plus. It’s an online application in a sense, it’s not a phone application but it gives everyone a quick ability to access what is going on in these particular cases and they don’t have to have a–

Jay Gresham:
Very super advanced technology to do that. They can pull that up right on their phone using their search engine on their phone. And it also gives notices to individuals involved in a case to where they can get a quick feel of what’s going on, what’s been filed and things of that nature. But also a big concern to me is jury summons, breakdown in criminal trials. So this past December, which is another reason this is a major impact of why I’m running for Clerk of Court, is that an entire general sessions, which is what’s called in South Carolina for a criminal court term, failed. In other words, it never happened because jurors were not even summoned for that week. So that was a big issue with the solicitor’s office, which of course I’m a prosecutor there, but also for the general public and not to mention all the victims’ families that were emotionally torn over that incident to where they deserve justice and resolution of their cases. And it was just flat-out denied for them that week. And I’ve said before is that the old saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied. And that’s what occurred this past December. But, you know, that’s been a reoccurring issue to where we’ve had a lack of jurors.

Jay Gresham:
Then another issue is that court orders have not been timely filed and courtrooms have not been properly staffed with deputy clerks of court. So those are significant issues that I see in the clerk’s office. I think they’re abuse of our tax monies, frankly.

Jay Gresham:
And so I’m dedicated to fixing those issues. But another breakdown to issue that I see is that the infrastructure of the courthouse, if you will, is significantly lacking. We’ve got elevators in the courthouses that have not been properly maintained, where I’ve had fellow colleagues of mine been stuck in elevators for multi-hours, which have required law enforcement and first responder intervention to get them out, and security cameras, for that matter. Security cameras are significantly lacking. They have not been updated for some time. I understand that some are 27 plus years old. So I know, I know security needs to be revamped, because everyone deserves to be safe at court, because I think that’s a, it’s a huge institution in our country, in our state, and everyone needs to feel safe when they come to the court, the courthouse. So those will be my main focuses. Well, I have many focuses, but those will be my two main ones to start with to be needed to be corrected when I become Clerk of Court, because I don’t think the budget that we’ve had, which is $9.7 million for these two years, has been appropriately allocated to the biggest needs of the office.

Katy Smith:
So what would be your priorities if elected this year?

Jay Gresham:
Well, to play into what I just said is revamping the security of the courthouse, both at Circuit Court, the old historic courthouse right there on East North Street and Church Street, that needs to be revamped. And that does propose certain challenges because of the historic nature of the building and where it is located in downtown Greenville, but also the infrastructure, the elevators, but also cutting some of the red tape. There’s a, I call it bureaucratic red tape that is unneeded and it has caused many hiccups in the judicial system in terms of navigating it both through my attorneys and the public and that’s that’s not what needs to happen is that we don’t there does not need to be a bureaucratic hindrance to navigating that system because everybody is challenging enough but especially in terms of people that are representing themselves or a first time being involved in the court system, not knowing what to do. I want to cut all that waste. And that’s waste to me, the bureaucratic processes that are currently being implemented. I also want to create the new court plus system that I was talking about, where people have a greater access to public records, their court records.

Jay Gresham:
Of course, there are certain exceptions of what are not their privilege to, but there are mainly they can’t access them and I want them to have a greater need. I’m very big into transparency.

Jay Gresham:
Transparency is not just a cliche word to me. It means something. And that’s what I want to bring to the office because I think that has been significantly lacking over these past many years, these decades, in fact. So I’m more of the no-nonsense approach. I come from a long family history of public service to Greenville County. My mom was the first woman prosecutor in the upstate of South Carolina. My grandfather was the longest-serving police chief in Greenville, and my great-grandfather was police chief as well in Greenville. And I want to follow in their footsteps and give back to my community. That’s all. I’ve wanted to do that since I was a little boy, and I feel like I am making a difference as a prosecutor, but I see our justice system right now, our local justice system, our court system, if you will, is it needs help. And I want to see it corrected and to do my duty to see it done.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. We have a little bit more time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Jay Gresham:
Yeah, I’d like for everyone to know that I will always maintain an open-door policy for attorneys, the general public. They’ll always have access to me. I’ll always meet with them, always hear their needs because that’s important to me of how they think that the court system can be improved. Of course, I don’t have the say in terms of electing judges because that’s what people seem to always come to me about. Judicial reform is the hot topic question of the day, but in terms of managing the courthouse, the behind-the-scenes management, I’d love to hear people out on that.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much for joining us, and thank you so much for your willingness to serve the community.

Jay Gresham:
Thank you, Katy. Very grateful.

Katy Smith:
Now we feature candidates Mike Fortner and incumbent Hobart Lewis, who are running for Greenville County Sheriff. Only Republican candidates filed for Sheriff, so based on the outcome of the June 11th Republican primary, either Mike Fortner or Hobart Lewis will be the only candidate on the ballot in November, and thus essentially the winner. First up is Mike Fortner. I’m pleased to be joined today by Mike Fortner, who is running for sheriff in the Greenville County Republican primary. Thanks so much for joining us, Mike.

Mike Fortner:
Thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
Well, tell us about yourself and why you are running for office.

Mike Fortner:
All right. My name is Mike Fortner and I’m running for Greenville County Sheriff. This June, I will have been married to my wife for 35 years. We have twin daughters, Ashley and Holly, and we also have a son named Stephen. He lives down in the Beaufort area. Stephen, we adopted through DSS. After my wife went through the pregnancy with the twins, she really didn’t want to go through being pregnant again. So one day, she was at a meeting with her legal staff professionals and a representative from DSS was there talking about all the different kids they have that are in need of an adoption. So we checked into adopting through DSS and we were given custody of Stephen when he was about three years old and when he was about five years old, we ended up adopting him. And now he has four of his own boys. We have nine grandsons altogether, no granddaughters. So that’s kind of unusual, but it’s wonderful. And that keeps us very busy.

Mike Fortner:
My law enforcement career– I started off as a reserve deputy this would have probably been about 1992. I used to work at a grocery store called Family Mart it was on Howell Road in East North Street right there at the corner and one night I’m working there and I’m stocking shelves I’m in the back part of the store along with the other stockers and we come up front we noticed that there was a couple of deputies there that had been called because of some people that were just hanging around the front of the store. And I got to talking to one of them and telling him about my interest in law enforcement and everything. And he suggested applying to the reserve deputy program.

Mike Fortner:
So I put in my application for the reserve deputies and got hired as a reserve deputy. So that’s how I started my law enforcement career. So I did that for a little over a year and then managed to get hired full-time in September of 93. And I started my time off in uniform patrol like most people do when they get hired. Did about five years in uniform patrol. And for me in law enforcement, I wanted to be in investigations. That was kind of my driving force in law enforcement. And particularly, I wanted to get into violent crimes investigations.

Mike Fortner:
So after about five years in uniform patrol, a position came open in what they call white-collar crime and investigations. So I put in for that position, managed to transfer to the white collar position where I started my investigative career. And then I got promoted to a master deputy. And with that promotion, I was transferred to the family violence unit. And after working the family violence unit for a couple of years, I moved over to robbery. And as a robbery investigator, not only do you work the robberies, but you also are assigned to a homicide investigator, and you work homicides with them. If they got a homicide, you went out with them and assisted on the investigation, and then eventually, I was transferred to homicide myself as a full-time position, and so I managed to get into homicide, and then at one point in time, I was asked to transfer over to internal affairs. And so I accepted the opportunity to go to internal affairs. And internal affairs you, of course, investigate serious complaints on deputies or any employees of the sheriff’s office, actually not just deputies, but even civilian employees and did division inspections, special teams inspections, and then also worked deputy-involved shootings. So I got a lot of varied experience working internal affairs.

Mike Fortner:
Then after about two years in internal affairs, I moved over to what they call the professional compliance unit, which is where the accreditation for the sheriff’s office is done. The sheriff’s office is accredited. The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office is accredited through the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, what they call CALEA for short, and also through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Accreditation. It has a dual accreditation. And my job there, along with another deputy’s job, was to ensure that the sheriff’s office was adhering to all the different standards that you have to adhere to to maintain your accreditation. And then they had a civilian employee that was doing the accreditation for the communications part. They had their own separate accreditation. So eventually I retired from the sheriff’s office in August of 2022. I retired after almost 29 years, about a month short of 29 years. The wife and I, we currently own a business here in, in Taylor’s area. So as a business owner, I understand business owners concerns with law enforcement and things that, you know, how it relates with businesses, small businesses in the County and everything. And so the wife and I, we had our wedding venues called Aurora farms in Taylor’s. And we opened that up, been open about five years. And after it was opened about three years or so, that’s when I retired. So it kind of gave me my retirement when I stepped down and retired.

Mike Fortner:
One day, the wife and I were sitting in our living room talking, and she asked me, why was I running for sheriff? And I told her a couple of different reasons. And then she said, no, tell me why you’re running. Give me one word. And I said, for others. I’m running for the citizens of Greenville County, and I’m running for the employees of the sheriff’s office. And I want to give the employees a better place to work. And I want to give the citizens of Greenville County a better sheriff’s office. And I want to do this through what I call the three E’s, and that’s efficiency, effectiveness, and ethics. I want to prove the efficiency of the sheriff’s office by looking at a lot of positions inside the sheriff’s office that are occupied by sworn deputies that could be maybe done by civilian employees. A perfect example is the position that I held. It did not require a sworn position to be there. I want to improve the effectiveness of it by improving the efficiency of the sheriff’s office. And then I want to improve the ethics part of it. When people hear that word ethics, they think maybe something illegal or corrupt or whatever. It’s nothing like that. It’s just using ethics to make better consistent decisions across the board, whether it’s hiring, whether it’s promotions, whether it’s just general enforcement of the law overall.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the county?

Mike Fortner:
Well, from talking to people during the course of my campaign at different speaking engagements, probably the four big ones that I hear is the illegal immigration issue that’s going on, human trafficking, the fentanyl crisis, and then the abortion clinic down on Grove Road is also a big one. There’s been a lot of issues down there. And there’s actually a website out there, lifeongroveroad.com, If any of the listeners aren’t familiar with it, they can go to that website and it’ll kind of show you a little bit about what’s going on down there. And so that’s a big issue to a lot of the voters here in Greenville County.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What would be your priorities if elected this year?

Mike Fortner:
Well, I want to identify the positions that don’t need to be filled by sworn officers, deputies. They could be done by civilians. Another thing I want to look at is the Reserve Deputy Program. I’d like to beef that up. That’s how I started. It’s a great way for people to get into law enforcement to see if they like it or not. It also gives the agency an opportunity to watch a reserve deputy work and see how they’re going to perform as a full-time deputy. I think that’ll help cut down on the turnover rate because people get into it and they know they really like it and they really want to be in it. I want to start what they call Citizens Police Academy. Give civilians an opportunity to work inside the sheriff’s office, see the operations of the sheriff’s office, to go through maybe six, eight weeks of training, classes, I guess you could say, to kind of see the whole how it all works and everything. That’s a great source of volunteers for the agency to help with manpower issues. And it increases the transparency of everything. Instead of the sheriff’s office going out to the community, the community has an opportunity to come into the sheriff’s office and see how things are run. And I think that is a big step towards the whole transparency issue.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. We have one minute left. Is there anything else you’d like to say to listeners?

Mike Fortner:
Well, it’s important to remember to vote. The Republican primary is on June 11th. There’s about two weeks of early voting prior to that. Interesting thing is that generally for primary elections, there’s only about 12 to 13 percent of voters actually vote in the primaries, which means 87 to 88 percent of the voters are allowing 12 to 13 percent of the voters to decide for them who they’re going to get to vote for in November. So I think it’s really important that people get out and vote. Make sure you’re registered to vote. You got to be registered at least 30 days prior to the primary to vote. So just make sure you get out and vote June 11th.

Katy Smith:
Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. And thank you so much for your willingness to serve our community.

Mike Fortner:
Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Katy Smith:
Next up is Hobart Lewis. I’m pleased to be joined by Sheriff Hobart Lewis today to talk about why he’s running. Thanks so much for joining us.

Hobart Lewis :
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Katy Smith:
Well, tell us about yourself and why you are running for re-election.

Hobart Lewis :
My name’s Hobart Lewis. I’m 52 years old. I was born and raised here in Greenville, South Carolina. I met my wife here, who worked at the hospital at the time. And actually, on primary day, June 11th, will be our 30-year wedding anniversary. So hoping to get a good anniversary present on that day.

Hobart Lewis :
She’s currently an assistant principal at Plain Elementary School. We have two beautiful adult children. My son’s 28, and he’s married. And he and his wife have blessed us with our first grandchild. She’s two years old, and I just love her to pieces. My daughter is a seventh-grade teacher at Blue Ridge Middle School, and she lives here in Greenville, obviously. So, you know, law enforcement was a big part of my life, something I always wanted to do. And I started my career at the Greer Police Department back in 1995 and worked there for 10 years. And my wife wanted to go back to school to be a teacher, get her teaching certificate. So I left temporarily so she could do that. And my kids were small and she went back to school at night. And then when I went back to work in law enforcement, I went to the sheriff’s office and worked there for five years. And, you know, just really got a unique opportunity to run for sheriff in 2016, where I lost to Will Lewis by 288 votes. And that had to happen, you know, as much as that hurt.

Hobart Lewis :
Going into what happened later and events that led up to a special election, you know, I think that really helped me understand what I was made of. And the Lord just worked with our family and worked through that. And so I had an opportunity to be involved in a 60-day election, a special election, and was just fortunate enough to win. And people at Greenville were so gracious to give me an opportunity to be the sheriff. And my first day in office was March 16th of 2020, which was the first day of COVID-19 for us here in South Carolina. And so a lot of unique things have happened. So I’ve actually been in office four years and, you know, rolling into my first election, re-election, rolling over into January, I will have served four years and nine months. So I’m in a unique situation, more so than maybe most candidates.

Katy Smith:
Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Greenville County?

Hobart Lewis :
You know, growth brings a lot of different issues for law enforcement that we– as the county grows and housing developments and businesses move here. And I get it. I mean, it’s a great place to live. I don’t believe there is a better place than upstate South Carolina in this country to live. But our resources are not meeting the demands that a lot of these things are bringing to Greenville County.

Hobart Lewis :
And we’re trying to keep up with that with COVID. When I came into office in 2020, we had 56 vacancies. I got 20 with a new budget that I stepped into, the 76 openings. At the time, we had about 540 employees. Today, we have 558 deputies, another 130 civilian employees. So we have one of the largest agencies in South Carolina. But with those number of vacancies and COVID and the academy being shut down, it’s very difficult to provide the level of service people expect. Our population continues to grow. That’s the challenge when you just talk about the service you provide. Now, when you talk about the criminal element, drugs, gangs, fentanyl, the homeless population, now immigration and the problems that it brings, because they are here, they’re being dropped off here, weekly, by the way, it brings a lot of challenges. So trying to meet those things and keep people wanting to work in law enforcement and encouraged enough to want to maintain a career in law enforcement presents challenges that affect every other thing. And there is such a huge difference in having a plan and running for office and being in office.

Hobart Lewis :
I had a lot of great ideas when I ran for office. But when I got here, you realize what is feasible, what can you do with the budget, and what can you do with people versus what you want to do. So it can be a slow process. But we certainly have our share of crime. I’m very proud to say our homicides are down. Our violent crime rate is down for the last two years. That’s a really big deal. We have solved 100% of our homicides for 2022, which is honestly, that’s almost unheard of across the country. We have changed the way we respond to missing persons. We have about 200 of those a year. We’re 100% for the past two years of finding all those missing persons, Alzheimer’s patients, juveniles, runaways, you know, alcohol, drug abuse, dementia patients. I mean, we created safe outcomes and we created a lot of different programs, which only helped encourage our people to want to be part of something special. And I think that’s why today we can say we only have 18 vacancies out of 558. That’s a significant increase.

Katy Smith:
Thank you so much.

Hobart Lewis :
Yes, ma’am.

Katy Smith:
What would be your priorities if reelected this year?

Hobart Lewis :
You know, I think to keep doing what we’re doing and not, you know, I hope I’ve done a good job for the people of Greenville County. You don’t want somebody to come in and kind of start over and reinvent the wheel. You know, I think keeping operation safe outcomes. We now have a homeless response unit that are identifying our homeless folks, getting them out of the roadways, making them stop begging for money, getting them off people’s property. Believe it or not, people would just camp out on somebody’s property and create all kind of issues there. But getting those people moved, getting them the help they need. We found a lot of them to be veterans that have access to benefits through Upstate War Solutions or the VA office. You know, and I was one of them. I always thought the homeless population was drugs or alcohol. It really isn’t. It’s more mental issues. So working with the legislator and trying to get some help for those folks and get them someplace where they can prosper and feel like somebody without being pressured into doing something helps clean up our community and make those people productive and offer them a chance. Proud to say that we now have a deputy, an SRO, in every school in Greenville County. We’ve done that in the last three years. We had a horrible situation at Tanglewood Middle School where a young man was shot by another student.

Hobart Lewis :
Practicing for those things helped that. It’s terrible the situations that it is. Nobody wants to see a teenager and a gun in a school. But preparing for those things and practicing for those things led to the best possible outcome for our response. We were able to apprehend the suspect, secure the school, get the kids, out take them to a different location, get the parents to go to that location. Our relationship with the school district over the past several years helped facilitate that one bad moment you know and that’s those are the things we have to keep doing. You know you have to certainly prepare for the worst, hope for the best, all those things. But training is key.

Hobart Lewis :
Now, one of the biggest issues with our employees is our wellness.

Hobart Lewis :
Concentrate on running and lifting weights and, you know, being in the best physical shape we can be in. But we don’t think a lot about our mental health. And that’s the things we’re dealing with. Suicide rates are up, alcoholism, drug use by employees.

Hobart Lewis :
Major Ty Miller had a vision for that. We obviously allowing folks to have some input. She created our wellness program that is literally being modeled by agencies across the nation. We have an on-board counselor that works for the sheriff’s office, they can go to. I don’t have access to that information, but they can go talk to them and they find treatment programs for them. We do have people who have alcohol issues. Again, they can go to a treatment facility. We’re helping that. Those people are coming back to work better than ever. Marriages are lasting longer, which means we’re treating citizens better. Our complaints are down. And hopefully, we have those people that stay for an entire career where they can retire. Those are the things I would like to see to the end. So my job’s not done yet. And I hope the people of Greenville County will certainly give me another opportunity to continue to do those things. And it’s certainly outside my family life, one of the greatest, the greatest professional blessings I’ve had is to have an opportunity to be the sheriff of Greenville County and my hometown, and it’s quite an honor. So hopefully we’ll get to do that for a little while longer. I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Katy Smith:
Well, we appreciate you taking the time to come in and talk with our listeners, and we appreciate your willingness to continue to serve the community.

Hobart Lewis :
Thank you for helping get the word out for everybody just running for office, and appreciate all you do, and thank you for being so professional. 

Catherine Puckett: Simple Civics: Greenville County is a project of Greater Good Greenville. Greater Good Greenville was catalyzed by the merger of the Nonprofit Alliance and the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy. You can learn more on our website at greatergoodgreenville.org. This is a production of Podcast Studio X.

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