Tolson. York.

York County Republicans Reopen Filing for Sheriff Candidates

Incumbent sheriff’s wife to campaign against former York County deputy in Republican primary.

Republicans in York County, South Carolina have reopened the filing period for a contested sheriff’s race after constituents accused the incumbent of performing a “bait-and-switch” less than one hour before the initial filing deadline closed.

On Tuesday (April 9, 2024), the York County Republican Party purportedly caved in the wake of political pressure after sheriff Kevin Tolson filed for reelection – and then subsequently withdrew his bid – as his wife, Beth Bryant Tolson, submitted her paperwork to run just 43 minutes before the closing deadline.

According to the sheriff – who spoke with FITSNews on Monday, April 1 – his decision to withdraw from the once-uncontested race came when he was invited to co-found a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the mental health of law enforcement officers across the United States. 

“Helping officers has been my calling since 2018,” Kevin said on April Fools’ Day — two weeks after filing for reelection. “I was offered the opportunity to start law enforcement assistant programs in 36 states that don’t have them … through a nonprofit called USA Leap.”




“My dad was sheriff for twenty years and left a legacy for my husband,” Beth told FITSNews during a dual interview with Kevin last Monday. “I know the heartbeat of the sheriff’s office and I know the ins and outs. I’m not going to say that I know everything, but I feel like I’m pretty qualified.”

It appears as though the York County Republican Party disagreed with Beth’s purported qualifications, as the party’s executive committee extended the filing period for sheriff candidates pursuant to S.C. Code of Laws § 7-11-15 (F).

“This is a provision that allows parties, in their own primaries, to reopen filing if there are less than two candidates,” said Howard Knapp, executive director of the S.C. Election Commission ( “In my experience, this is a rarely used provision within the code of laws.”

Knapp furthermore told FITSNews that “lots of offices” have unopposed candidates vying for election/reelection in 2024 — and that York County was the first to apply § 7-11-15 (F) since he was appointed as interim director in October 2021. 

“This has not occurred throughout my tenure,” continued Knapp on Wednesday. “And had this gone further, it would have put a strain on developing all the ballot styles through York County. The state election commission has to code every ballot throughout the state.”



Come seven minutes after reopening the filing period on Thursday, retired York County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) lieutenant Heath Clevenger paid the filing fee of $7,770.43 and thereafter secured a position on the primary ballot

“I served the citizens of York County of over twenty-three years, with 21 of those years on the sheriff’s office S.W.A.T. team,” Clevenger wrote on his website. “I’m looking to continue serving my community and fellow officers as sheriff, where I hope to promote safer communities through effective enforcement, enhancing trust in the community, and supporting deputies.”

FITSNews has since deployed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests concerning a service call at the Tolson’s former residence last August. While the nature of this service call remains unconfirmed, Elizabeth Hyatt of Hyatt Law, LLC addressed the rumors in a widely disseminated email to female constituents on Monday. 

I do not think we would be hearing this outcry if a man had replaced Kevin on the ballot I firmly believe that they are coming after her because she is a woman. The things that I hear people are throwing out in condemnation are about her husband having an affair, or a medical call at her house. These things, whether true or not, would not affect a man running, nor would people pull them out. 

Mon., April 8, 2024, 12:52 p.m.

Thanks to the extended filing period, Republican candidates vying for sheriff of York County have until Wednesday, April 17 at 12:00 p.m. EDT to submit paperwork to seek the office. Eligible candidates must file at the York County Government Center (6 South Congress Street, Suite 1201) in York during regular business hours.

The York County sheriff is a four-year term and pays an annual salary of $194,261 while managing approximately 350 employees, according to public records made accessible through GovSalaries.

This story may be updated.



Andrew Fancher (Travis Bell)

Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



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1 comment

Sheriff Buford T. Justice Top fan April 12, 2024 at 1:41 pm

Looks like they tried to get by with pulling a fast one and keeping it all in the family. LOL! This could very well get interesting.


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