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Candidate for SC County sheriff addresses ‘blackface’ photo in campaign video

Updated: Oct. 8, 2019 at 10:16 PM EDT
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A Colleton County law enforcement officer is opening to mistakes he says he has made in the past, through a campaign video.

Craig Stivender is a Republican candidate running for Colleton County Sheriff in 2020.

On Tuesday, Stivender posted his campaign video where he talks about owning up to his mistakes for the sake of transparency.

In the video, Stivender admits to appearing in blackface at a Halloween party held by law enforcement officers about a decade ago. He says he dressed up as a notorious gang member.

“Ten years ago, when I dressed up I had no idea what blackface was,” Stivender said. “ It just happened to be a Halloween costume for me.”

Stivender says he decided to be open and honest with the people at the start of the campaign, which included talking about things his opponents may try to use against him.

He mentions getting a traffic ticket, losing his temper on the job, and the photo of him darkening his skin.

“I’m obviously not a perfect person, there are things that I wish I could change about my past that I can’t and I don’t think that photo from 10 years ago should define my character,” Stivender said.

Stivender addressed the photo as a mistake, but when asked if he apologizes for the photo he said, “I would refer back to my video. I would say that it was never my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings or make fun of anyone. It was just a Halloween costume.”

In 2019, the University of South Carolina and The Citadel both came under fire for blackface photos in their yearbooks.

Stivender has been in law enforcement for 15 years and hopes the photo won’t be the deciding factor when it comes to the goal of the election.

He hopes to focus on a platform to clean up Colleton County.

He says there is a drug problem in the county that needs to be addressed.

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