A former sheriff of Union County is looking to be the county’s next sheriff.
William Jolly announced Monday that he will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for sheriff. Jolly, who served as sheriff from 1981-1993, said he decided to run for his old office in order to again serve the people of Union County.
“My desire to serve the public has brought all this on,” Jolly said. “I’ve waited anxiously for this opportunity. I want to serve the people of Union County and I’m ready, willing and able to do so.”
A native of Union County, Jolly graduated from Union High School in 1964 and shortly thereafter joined the SC National Guard. In addition to serving in the guard, Jolly also worked at Monarch Mills, Conso, Carlisle Finishing and Union City Tool & Stamping before entering law enforcement as a deputy in the sheriff’s office. He said he was inspired to embark on a career in law enforcement by some of his friends who had also chosen to enter law enforcement.
“I had a lot of friends in law enforcement, especially the highway patrol,” Jolly said. “It was something I wanted to do.”
While he considered joining the SC Highway Patrol as a number of his friends had, Jolly said it was his love of his home community that led him to join the sheriff’s office instead.
“I considered joining the highway patrol, but back then they wouldn’t assign you to your home county,” Jolly said. “So I joined the sheriff’s office because I love Union County and wanted to serve here.”
Jolly joined the sheriff’s office as a deputy in 1975, but didn’t remain a deputy for long. In 1980, he sought and won the Democratic nomination for sheriff and then went on to win the general election in November of that year, taking office in 1981. He would be reelected two times, serving a total of 12 years as sheriff before declining to seek reelection in 1992.
In announcing his intention to seek what would be his fourth term in office, Jolly pointed to the accomplishments of his 12 years as sheriff including the formation of the drug task force and the ensuing arrests and successful prosecutions of a number of drug dealers.
“Our drug task force was very successful and was able to take a lot of drugs off the street,” Jolly said. “We spent a lot of time in federal court successfully prosecuting drug cases.”
The Crime Watch program was also formed during that time and Jolly said the signs of the program can still be found around the county.
Another accomplishment of his tenure as sheriff was his open door policy which Jolly said he would continue if elected.
“I always had an open door policy where anybody could come and talk to me,” Jolly said. “I would keep that policy going.”
Jolly said he would bring the office of the sheriff back to its old location in the sheriff’s office in the basement of the Union County Courthouse from its current location at 911 on South Pinckney Street.
“My office will be in the courthouse, that’s where most people come to for their dealings with the county,” Jolly said. “Right now it’s out of the way for people. People do most of their business, pay their taxes at the courthouse and that’s where the sheriff should be.”
After leaving office at the end of 1992, Jolly went to work for SLED, remaining with the agency until 2001 when he went to work for the US Army in homeland security. Since leaving the army in 2005, Jolly has worked as a security analyst for the Jeter NAPA stores in several counties, a position he continues to hold.
While he enjoyed his time with SLED, the army and the Jeter stores, Jolly said he has missed the kind of personal contact he had with the people of Union County as sheriff and wants the opportunity reestablish that contact and serve the community.
“I’ve really missed the personal contact with the community that I had then,” Jolly said. “There’s many things that need to be done including involving our schools, our churches and civic organizations all working together to make Union County a more secure and prosperous county.”
Jolly said he would achieve this by implementing programs that would have the sheriff’s office more involved in the community.
“We’d do this through community programs where the sheriff’s office would be more involved in the community,” Jolly said. “The sheriff’s office would attend meetings and participate in activities designed to educate the public about crime prevention, fraud, and home safety.”
Another reason Jolly said he is running is his concern for and desire to secure the future of the children of Union County, especially his three grandsons.
“I’m like most grandparents, a very important part of a grandparent’s life is watching their grandchildren grow and watching out for them and their safety,” Jolly said.
Jolly is the second candidate to announce for the Democratic nomination for sheriff. Incumbent Sheriff David Taylor announced at the end of January that he would seek the party’s nomination for a second term.