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We are going to repeat a few things we said very recently, but we think, thankfully, an ongoing issue has finally come to the correct conclusion.
We think the dual office ban in the state’s Constitution is a good thing, but it has, sometimes, unfortunate implications.
It is no guideline or recommendation. It is actually not just a law. It is a provision of the state’s constitution. The ban says no person can hold two offices “for honor and profit.”
The ban is there to prevent the dangerous accumulation of power in one person’s hands. Many times there are people who could perhaps be trusted with a lot of power, but should they be allowed to use different powers arising from different offices.
Time and again, history has shown us that power, eventually, corrupts. It’s better not to worry about making exceptions to the rules and instead follow those rules.
Darryl Washington, a Chester County deputy and school resource officer, took the oath of office as a Great Falls Town Councilman last month.
The Attorney General’s office has ruled that both positions are offices of honor and profit.
We were the first to report on the issue when it arose after the election. Having come across it over the years, we knew where it was going to lead.
No one was picking on Washington or singling him out. The state Attorney General has over the years said that deputies are officers under the state constitution, and that town council members are officers.
The state’s Constitution says Washington and anyone else like him in similar situations cannot hold two offices.
It seems unfair to someone who is capable and has the best interests of the public at heart. But fair doesn’t matter. It’s also the law.
Washington didn’t like the position he found himself in by running for office, and he put off doing what needed to be done as long as he could, it seems. But recently, he did what he had to do. He made a choice.
He took his oath of office as a town councilman last month, and to make it official, he tendered his resignation to Sheriff Robby Benson.
As sorry as we can be that the ban came into play in this situation, we believe in the ban and think it prevents dangerous accumulation of power in the hands of a few.
Washington thinks it is wrong. Others do as well. A bill was introduced to exempt deputies and other law enforcement officials from the ban. It passed the S.C. House of Representatives, but died in the S.C. Senate. It’s obvious there are many who believe it should perhaps be changed. Maybe someday it will be. But it is the law today.
Darryl Washington chose to abide by the law. We applaud him. We know it was hard.
But he did the right thing, and we hope this issue is put to rest once and for all.
Chester News & Reporter editorial.