Berkeley County sheriff has challengers for first time in 20 years

By Stacy

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV) -- For the first time in 20 years, Berkeley County voters will have a choice for sheriff on Tuesday's ballots.

Sheriff Wayne Dewitt has been in office since 1995.

"I recognize this as an office of trust that one person only holds. They have trusted me with this office for 20 years. I hope they will trust me with four more," Dewitt said.

But challenger Brian Adams saw Tuesday's election as an opportunity for the county to go in a new direction.

Adams says he had 23 years of law enforcement experience. He currently serves as a lieutenant for the North Charleston Police Department, but has lived in Berkeley County since he was three years old.

The department has too many administrative positions and not enough patrols on the road, he said.

"We need to restructure financial, realign the personnel to better serve us," Adams said.

Candidate Matt Smoak agreed with the need for more road patrols. He also has several years of public safety experience. Smoak has been a City of Charleston police officer for seven years and also served as a firefighter and paramedic.

"I hold high standards. I pride myself in integrity and character. I believe you have to have those qualities in your personnel," Smoak said.

Smoak said he wanted to make the sheriff's office more open and communicative with the public. He thought Berkeley County needed change.

"I don't believe his track record is proving the experience is paying off. The longer you're in office, the more you're complacent. You need to be improving, make changes and always be keeping up with how the county's growing," he said.

Dewitt disagreed.

"Experience matters a lot here. My two opponents have no knowledge of operating a sheriff's office. I've been there 35 years," he said.

Three men all looking to better Berkeley County. On Tuesday, voters will decide who can do it best.