5 candidates for countywide posts face no opposition Tuesday

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By Jenny Hartley

Five candidates seeking countywide positions are expected to sail to easy victories in Tuesday's election.

The reason: They face no opponents.

Barring a successful write-in campaign, Lancaster County Coroner Mike Morris, Clerk of Court Jeff Hammond, Treasurer Dick Rowell and Auditor Cheryl Morgan will all retain their offices. They are all Democrats.

Lancaster County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Barry Faile, also a Democrat, faces no Republican opposition in his first attempt at elected office. Faile is seeking to succeed Johnny Cauthen, who has been sheriff for 12 years. Cauthen did not seek re-election this year.

Faile: Growth a concern

Faile, 40, said growth is the biggest issue facing the county and his office. He said the sheriff's office needs to be able to provide adequate patrol coverage and have acceptable response times. That means he'll have to show County Council, through call volume statistics, the need for more deputies.

"Through cooperative efforts, I think we can successfully add patrols, investigators and narcotics officers as the numbers dictate," he said.

Faile said he plans to continue working with state and federal agencies to enforce drug and gang laws.

"Drug and gang enforcement will always be a top priority for law enforcement," he said.

Faile and his wife, Crystal, have three children. He is a graduate of Lancaster High School.

Faile's father, Williford, also served as Lancaster County sheriff in the past.

Coroner has 28 years in office

Morris, 58, has served as Lancaster County coroner for the past 28 years. He is also a retired paramedic.

"I'm very humbled by being in this office as long as I have been," Morris said.

Morris' position became full-time in 2006, something he had requested from County Council to deal with growth in the county. More growth, in coroner's terms, means more deaths for the office to handle.

The coroner's office has also added a full-time chief deputy coroner, Karla Knight, in recent years. There are also three part-time deputy coroners.

Long-range plans for the coroner's office include adding a morgue for the office. This will help the coroner's staff better serve families dealing with death.

Morris and his wife, Toni, have two children. He is a 1969 graduate of Lancaster High School.

Hammond seeks third term

Hammond, 49, has served two terms as clerk of court. He previously served on Lancaster City Council.

Hammond said an obvious priority for his office is finding a temporary location to hold court and move court officials' offices in the wake of the fire at the Lancaster County Courthouse on Aug. 4. The clerk of court and public defender's office, plus offices of the 6th Circuit Solicitor's office, were displaced by the courthouse fire. The county will need a temporary location for at least three years while a new courthouse is built.

Keeping on top of court security will also be an issue, ensuring that the court facilities are safe both during the day and after hours.

Hammond is also supporting several pieces of new legislation, including a law that, if passed, would charge a fee for failure to obey a court order. This law would be applied mostly in family court cases.

Hammond and his wife, Coreen, have two sons. He has a master's degree.

Auditor: Enforce state laws

Morgan, 51, has been auditor for the county for 20 years. She was the 2004 S.C. Auditors and Treasurers and Tax Collectors president, and 2007 president of the S.C. Association of Assessing Officials.

Like other county officials, Morgan is concerned with the growth in the county. She said she plans on working with the county administrator and County Council to make sure that systems are in place to make new residents aware of South Carolina laws and getting everyone to pay their fair share.

Morgan and her husband, Bobby, have two children and two grandchildren. She is a graduate of Buford High School.

Rowell is county "banker"

Rowell, 64, a Democrat, is going into his third term as treasurer.

In Rowell's time, the office has moved from handwritten ledgers taped together to computer records on spreadsheets. The office is now more customer-friendly, and now issues car license plate decals.

Rowell is quick to give praise to his staff, who offer good customer service to residents.

Rowell and his wife, Debra, have a daughter.

Rowell, who holds a degree in business from the University of South Carolina, was in the banking industry for 25 years before working as the "banker" for the county. He worked for Jim Bradley at the Bank of Lancaster. Rowell's father, Richard Rowell, served as Lancaster County treasurer for 20 years.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151