This year’s race for coroner of Clarendon County features two people in the Democratic primary: incumbent Coroner Bucky Mock and challenger Jacqueline Blackwell.
All registered voters who …
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All registered voters who live in Clarendon County can vote.
The winner of this primary does not face opposition in November’s general election.
Statewide partisan primaries will be held June 9. Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a law that allows any registered voter statewide to request an absentee ballot. Traditionally, voters must fit into one of 18 eligibility categories, but now anyone can request “State Of Emergency” to vote absentee, which can be done by mail or in person.
Any registered voter can vote in the primaries. South Carolina does not require voters to declare a party, so voters can choose any party’s primary to vote in, but you can only vote in one party’s primary. November’s general election is one overall ballot featuring primary winners and any party opposition.
Absentee voting is open now in Clarendon at the county voter registration office in Manning at 411 Sunset Drive.
Keep following The Sumter Item in print and online at www.TheItem.com/election2020 for all our coverage of local candidates.
Why are you running? To better serve the people of Clarendon County with integrity, trust, dignity, compassion and dedication.
Have you run for political office before? No, however throughout my lifelong career I have served the people of Clarendon County as a teacher and as a law enforcement officer with over 30 years of experience.
How long have you lived in Clarendon? Over 65 years; Alcolu is my home.
Current job/profession: Victim/witness advocate and administrative assistant for the Third Circuit Solicitor Office currently based at the Clarendon County Courthouse.
What experience do you have that makes you best fit for the seat? I started my law enforcement years in the late 70s as a dispatcher. I was named Dispatcher of the Year for four consecutive years. One of the calls that I received was saving the life of an elderly woman during a fire by directing her to safety until help arrived. The recording was used as a training tool for dispatchers at the South Carolina Fire Academy for many years. During my time as a dispatcher, I assisted the late Rev. Norman Blackwell, who was the coroner of Clarendon County. I assisted him with administrative procedures, which included helping to notify out-of-state immediate family members of deceased persons.
I worked as an investigator with the Clarendon County Sheriff Office for over 11 years. These duties include working homicides, sexual assaults, domestic violence situations, hostage situations, suicides, elderly and child abuses, assaults and other major crimes. I am a certified special skills instructor, elderly and child abuse specialist, juvenile officer and sexual assault investigator with over 600 accredited hours through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and other training facilities statewide and nationally.
As a law enforcement officer, I was declared an expert witness by a Circuit judge while testifying in a major General Sessions case in Clarendon County. This testimony was instrumental in putting the perpetrator away and bringing justice to the family.
I was the administrative of the remedial computer lab for English and math at Manning High School and later at Phoenix Charter High School. I also brought computers to the sheriff’s office. Prior to that, everything was manually. I was invited to sit in on county meetings by the late Betty Roper, county administrator, when meeting with vendors to make Clarendon County convert to computers.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. I attended South Carolina State University (then called College) and graduated from Morris College. I continued my education getting certifications.
I am currently a South Carolina State Constable, certified through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. I am also a certified Notary Public for this state.
I am a public speaker. I have spoken at high schools and other events. I was a presenter at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Victim’s Advocate Annual Conference on the topic of juvenile and drug court and at The Palmetto State Law Enforcement Officers Association Annual Conference on the topic of evidence collection.
I am certified and qualified for this position. And lastly, I love people, and I can get along with people regardless of race, creed or color. To this day, I still have former defendants and victims thanking me for helping them to make major changes in their lives. I was always taught that I should treat people as I would like to be treated.
What challenges/concerns do you see in your district/community, and how do you intend to improve them? The challenge that I see in my community is uniting the generations through educating each other. There is a gap in communication and unity. We must bridge that gap. Everyone has a voice and has the right to be heard. I hear the concerns of the youth, the elderly and the in-betweens. I feel that I can communicate with anyone. I will find programs and forums to unite people through peaceful solutions. I have access to many resources that would better this community and would not hesitate in bringing them in to help make my community be the best in this state.
If changes necessitate funding, how would you want to move funding around or make it possible? I would seek the best way to make it functional. I am an unofficial grant writer. I have successfully written grants for my sister, who is a teacher in Williamsburg County wherein her students, their parents and the community were well-served. I also gathered the data for the Law Enforcement Segment of the $3 million Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant, which Clarendon School District 2 received a few years ago. This grant helped place law enforcement officers in each school in the district. I was also part of the team that worked on a grant that helped to place defibrillators in every department on the campus of South Carolina State University while working in the police department. I will be accountable for the funds coming in and out of the office which I seek. Nothing will be finalized without the consent of Clarendon County Council.
What success have you seen that you want to continue/build on? I applaud Clarendon County Council for getting a new and improved building for the Coroner’s Office. I will continue to keep the office updated with modern technology and bring in resources that will better serve the people of Clarendon County outside of the physical walls of the building.
What is your vision for Clarendon? I would love to see our county work together for the people of Clarendon. Just as the body has many functions to operate as one, so must the different agencies work together to become one. Where there is unity, there is strength. Clarendon County can become one of the best in the state when we all work together.
Are you actively involved in the community? How so? I am a member of the Sumter Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. based on Christian values and community service, serving Clarendon, Sumter and Lee counties; a member of the Palmetto State Law Enforcement Officers Association; a member of the Clarendon Section of the National Council of Negro Women; a member of the local chapter of the Democratic Party, former secretary and currently the administrator of the party’s Facebook page; an active member of Green Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Alcolu, serving in many capacities; assisted Judge Amy Land delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels Program; volunteer reading at Manning Early Childhood Center; support the Annual Think Pink Event for Cancer in Clarendon County; committee member of the Annual Law Enforcement’s National Night Out Community Event.
Why should people vote for you? Because I am the best certified and qualified candidate and would be the best person in this position to better serve the people of Clarendon County with dignity, honor, trust and compassion. I will do my best to make Clarendon County proud of their coroner and be part of the team.
Anything else about yourself you want to add? I am family oriented, a mother of three, Terrin, KaTasha and Charles, a grandmother, a sister to six siblings and the daughter of Henrietta Blackwell and the late Jasper Blackwell. The granddaughter of the late William Jasper “Coot” and Carrie Burgess and the late John and Lucille Blackwell Montgomery.
Why are you running? I have worked for the Clarendon County Coroner’s Office for more than 25 years. First, I served as a deputy coroner under the late Ranny I. Stephens and the late Hayes F. Samuels and then as coroner beginning in early 2018 after the death of Samuels. I have a complete working knowledge of the job, and I am passionate about serving the people of Clarendon County. They need a coroner that will go to the scene personally, whether it’s in the wee hours of the morning or on a holiday. Due to my almost 48 years as a practicing nurse, I can recognize the cause of death in the majority of cases and give them the answers they so desperately need for deaths due to natural causes or deaths due to criminal activities and accidents. My medical knowledge combined with my professionalism, compassion and caring allows me to help families through these emotional and trying times. If it’s a local death, I don’t call them on the phone. I go to their homes. I sit down and talk with them. I answer their questions. I contact loved ones for them. For me, being coroner is more than a job. It’s a calling. It’s my chance to help my neighbors, friends and even strangers get through challenging times. I see how families are devastated by the news of a child’s, parent’s or friend’s death. I want to use my knowledge to aid them in dealing with their grief.
Have you run for political office before? In 2018, Gov. Henry McMaster appointed me to serve as coroner when Hayes F. Samuels Jr. died while in office. In 2019, I ran for the coroner’s job and won.
How long have you lived in Clarendon County? More than 25 years
What experience do you have that makes you best fit for the seat? I am a forensic nurse. I have extensive training in death investigations and I have worked death investigations as a deputy coroner and then coroner with the Clarendon County Coroner’s Office for more than 25 years. My nursing training enables me to recognize many medical conditions that can lead to death. I have worked with doctors and can call on their medical expertise and knowledge to assist with determining cause of death. I have also worked with the Health and Human Services (HHS) medical teams during disaster situations dealing with medical emergencies following natural disasters like hurricanes. Recently I have worked with HHS in providing medical assistance in areas hit the hardest with the COVID-19 pandemic.
What challenges/concerns do you see in your district/community, and how do you intend to improve them? I would like to like to see the rate of accidental deaths decrease in Clarendon County. In an effort to lower accidental deaths, I began offering safety tips on a variety of topics to groups ranging in age from young children to adults. The topics include bicycle, seatbelt, water recreation, life jacket, boating, school bus, wheelchair and driving safety as well as encouraging youngsters and young adults against bullying. I also encourage individuals to use the SC DMV site to list next of kin on their South Carolina driver’s license information. This information can only be accessed by law enforcement officials and can be extremely valuable to both law enforcement and medical personnel when individuals are injured or killed. When an individual is unconscious, this information may mean the difference in life or death.
If changes necessitate funding, how would you want to move funding around or make it possible? Grants are a huge revenue asset for governmental offices. I will continue to solicit grant funds from a variety of state and federal sources. As an active member of the South Carolina Coroner’s Association, I receive valuable information from coroners from around the state about available grant funding as well as ways to various cost cutting measures.
What success have you seen that you want to continue/build on? I want to see my safety program reduce the number of accidents across the county. I want to continue a program that I recently initiated that will help the community understand the various roles of a coroner. A coroner’s role doesn’t end when the family is notified of a loved one’s death. The coroner’s job goes far beyond that. The coroner is most often the first person to tell a family member that their loved one has died. I want families to know that their Clarendon County Coroner is there to answer their questions and to assist them through the grieving process.
What is your vision for Clarendon? Clarendon County is my home. It’s where I work, play and serve my community. I want to see my county grow both spiritually and economically. Through continuous training and education, I want to encourage our communities to become more understanding of others and to live safer at home, at school and at play. My vision is to see less accidental deaths, and I will work tirelessly to see that vision become a reality.
Are you actively involved in the community? I have been an active volunteer with the Clarendon County Fire Department and Manning Fire Department for more than 20 years and serve my community as a captain at Wyboo Station 4. When the tone goes out, whether it’s at Station 4 or any of the other stations throughout the county, I head in that direction to lend a hand. I am also active with my church where I serve as a layman. I am a cancer survivor and a member of the Clarendon County Cancer OverComer’s organization. As a cancer survivor, I also work to bring about an awareness of how residual smoke on fire gear impacts firefighters. I also participate numerous school and community events. I am an active member of the South Carolina Coroner’s Association.
Why should people vote for you? Being the Clarendon County Coroner is not just a job for me. It’s my passion. I strive to do my best to help families and loved ones with their various needs every time I’m called out on a death. Although I’m in the office every day, I am on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that includes holidays. Clarendon County has never had a coroner with as much medical knowledge and experience as I have. Being Clarendon County coroner is a full-time job. It’s a job that I am qualified to fill.
Anything else about yourself you want to add? I love my church, my family and my county. I want to continue serving as Clarendon County coroner. I believe my extensive medical background, the time I have served as your full-time coroner for the past two years and my commitment to serving everyone in Clarendon County with compassion, caring and undivided attention show how devoted I am to Clarendon County and everyone who lives here.
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