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More Local Government Drama In Darlington, South Carolina

Former police chief at heart of 2017 scandal is running for public office …

The former chief of police in Darlington, South Carolina is seeking a seat on city council in the general election on November 2, 2021. Daniel Watson is running for the city’s first ward seat because he wants to “improve our infrastructure including roads, water and sewer as well as other city services.”

Watson also says he wants to “improve the working conditions of our city employees” and “work hard to attract business and investment to our community.”

Darlington certainly needs a boost. Aside from hosting NASCAR’s Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend, the city has very little going for it. According to the latest U.S. Census estimates, Darlington is home to approximately 5,800 people – well below its peak of nearly 8,000 citizens back in 1980.

That’s a 27.5 percent decline …

Not everyone is thrilled with Watson’s candidacy, however, especially after his resignation as police chief in January of 2018 raised eyebrows.

(Click to view)

(Via: Daniel Watson For City Council/ Facebook)

As my news outlet reported at the time, Watson (above) was allegedly involved in “some sort of inappropriate relationship” with a former female student of his at the Florence-Darlington Technical College – a government-run system of vocational campuses located in the Pee Dee region of the state.

School officials launched an investigation into this alleged inappropriate relationship after receiving an anonymous tip regarding Watson, who was a part-time professor at the school. Meanwhile, a female student who claimed to have received sexually explicit messages from the police chief threatened on social media to “expose my married professor.”

I spoke with the student at the time regarding her social media post, however she declined to discuss the matter further.

“It’s his problem not mine,” she told me at the time.

Prior to the “sexting” scandal, Watson was in office during a suspicious July 2017 burglary of guns and ammunition from his department.

Of interest? One of Watson’s allies staunchest allies in local government was former Darlington city manager Howard Garland. Four-and-a-half months ago, Garland was unceremoniously booted from his job following a tense meeting held by city council members in “executive session” (i.e. behind closed doors).

What prompted his dismissal? Good question … however there are reports Garland was heavily involved in the decision to allow Watson to resign his office as police chief rather than face the consequences of his rumored bad behavior.

Sound familiar? It should … my news outlet is covering a similar scandal impacting the town of Sullivans Island, S.C.

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Darlington residents have been clamoring for some accountability when it comes to their elected officials for months, but few mainstream media outlets have paid them any mind.

“Please help us!” one Darlington citizen wrote to me in the spring. “We need some legit investigative journalism! Where there is smoke there is fire in this town.”

Since then, I have received several impassioned pleas from city residents imploring my news outlet “not to forget” about them.

Obviously, I will keep an eye on Watson’s candidacy as it gets ramped up – just as I will see what I can uncover about the dismissal of his ally, Garland, earlier this year. Far too often elected and appointed officials in rural, impoverished areas of the state operative outside of the lines … with impunity. When they do, their behavior needs to be exposed.

As with anyone who is covered by this news outlet, though, these local officials are always entitled to avail themselves of my microphone in addressing any of the complaints raised against them. Accordingly, I extend Watson the invitation to address his 2017 scandal as he seeks to convince voters in Darlington to support his bid for their local council.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that 2010 San Francisco Giants’ World Series lid pictured above).

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