Knight topples Boatwright in close balloting

L.C. Knight

Melissa Haneline

After 20 years, it appears that Dorchester County will once again have a Knight for a sheriff.

L.C. Knight, a former magistrate and a SLED agent for nearly 30 years, beat Folly Beach Public Safety Director Terry Boatwright in the Republican primary for Dorchester County sheriff. According to unofficial results, Knight had 53 percent of the vote to Boatwright's 47 percent.

Because there is no Democrat running, Knight is virtually assured of being elected sheriff in November.

"It's been a long, hard battle. We had a lot of wonderful supporters who worked hard for us," Knight said Tuesday evening. "We're looking forward to January to take office and start implementing the changes that we need in Dorchester County."

Boatwright and Knight ran campaigns focused on improving service and restoring confidence in the beleaguered sheriff's office. Earlier this year, an audit found that more than $360,000 was missing from a jail fund over a period of seven years, money that was allegedly embezzled by a jail employee.

In April, the sheriff's office was stung by the arrest of state Sen. Randy Scott on DUI charges. Scott claimed the arrest was politically motivated.

Much consternation ensued.

Sheriff Ray Nash opted against running for re-election, listing Boatwright's interest in the job as a mitigating factor in his decision. Boatwright and Knight had challenged Nash before.

"We fought a hard fight, worked hard day and night, and we did it with honor and integrity," Boatwright said. "I'm very proud of our efforts. We made significant headway in four months. It was a typical David and Goliath scenario."

In his campaign, Knight talked about improving customer service and raising pay for deputies and other employees while getting a tighter hold on the department's budget. He talked of improving response times in a county blessed, or plagued, with explosive growth.

Knight may have been helped by his lifetime residence in the community and by his family name. His father, Carl Knight, was sheriff in Dorchester County from 1960 to 1988. Party officials suspected that some Democrats may have crossed over to vote for Knight.