NEWBERRY - Craig Newton says he is running for Newberry County coroner because he wants to fill the position with someone with law enforcement knowledge who has the concerns of residents at heart.
Newton, 52, is retired from the South Carolina Highway Patrol after 25 years of service as a state trooper. A Democrat, he faces Republican Michael Thomas, a firefighter, rescue squad member and business owner, in the November General Election.
James Smith, the current coroner, is not seeking re-election due to health concerns. Initially Tommy Hedgepath was running unopposed for the seat, but he died before the primary, leaving the race open.
Newton said he and Hedgepath were close friends and mutual friends asked him to seek the coroner's position.
“After much prayer I decided to do so,” he said.
Newton said the crux of why he is running is he believes the coroner's office is a law enforcement position, with a law officer's knowledge needed in death investigations.
If elected, Newton said he hopes to modernize the department, including adding a user-friendly website.
“So people can get the information they need in their time of need,” he said. “I also plan to work with the Newberry County Victim's Advocate Office to pool our resources and meet with families to have all their questions answered effectively.”
Newton said he lives in the City of Newberry and will be able to respond to any part of the county in an equal amount of time. He said he would appoint deputy coroners in strategic areas of the county.
Newton and his wife, Robin, a school teacher, have been married 32 years. They have two sons, Brett, a teacher and coach at Whitmire Community School and Brad, a state trooper in Greenville.
After retiring in 2001, Newton went to work for Strategic Security where he oversees daily operations of providing security for Newberry College and Springfield Place, a retirement center.
He is a member of Central United Methodist Church in Newberry where he is a member of the Finance Committee. He is a commissioner and vice president for the Newberry Housing Authority and he is chairman of the Newberry Affordable Housing Board. He is a member of the South Carolina Troopers Association and is a past member of the American Association of State Troopers.