Five candidates are running for sheriff of York County to replace the retiring Kevin Tolson, including his wife.

Michael Belk, Chris Blevins, Tony Breeden, Heath Clevenger, and Beth Bryant Tolson are running in the Republican primary for York County Sheriff on June 11. If no candidate gets a majority of the votes, a runoff will take place on June 25. There’s no Democrat running, so the Republican nominee is expected to win November’s general election.

The Fort Mill Sun asked each candidate to submit information on themselves and answer a few questions, with no restrictions on length. Tony Breeden did not respond.

Michael Belk

“With 31 years of committed Law enforcement experience and service I am fully prepared to lead the York County Sheriff’s office on day one. I have served in numerous assignments while working at the Rock Hill Police department like Patrol, Investigations, narcotics, Training, SWAT Commander and most recent the Deputy Chief of Police.

“As Deputy Chief I serve as second in command at the largest Police Department in the County and run the daily operations of the agencies 5 divisions, 200+ employees and a budget of 23 million dollars.”

Chris Blevins

“Starting at the YCSO as a reserved deputy in 1994, I have worked and gained experience in many different divisions of the sheriff’s office.  I have worked in the Patrol Division, Narcotics, and Criminal Investigations. I was a supervisor in the  Anti-Crime Team, Traffic Enforcement, Patrol Division, Honor Guard, and most recently, a District Commander.

“At each iteration of my career, I have gained valuable experience not in Law Enforcement but the diverse communities within York County. I have also been placed in several high-stress situations throughout my career, leading to several accolades. 

“In addition to receiving Congressional recognition, (I have) been awarded other commendations, including multiple Medals of Valor from the York County Sheriff’s Office, SC Sheriff’s Association, multiple Medals of Honor from York County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Citation, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Medal of Merit.

“One of these incidents occurred in Fort Mill while assisting CMPD in the apprehension of a violent armed robbery suspect. I also value transparency; being the top law enforcement official in the county requires someone who can face hard questions, make tough decisions, and earn and maintain citizens’ trust.  My campaign is a testament to my transparency and willingness to interact with citizens.”

Heath Clevenger

“I reside in the unincorporated area of York with my wife and daughter. I retired after 25 years of service in December of 2022. “I served as a detention officer, patrol deputy, traffic enforcement deputy, training sergeant, patrol sergeant, narcotics investigator, patrol lieutenant/district commander, and lieutenant of special operations. I served for over 21 years on the York County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team as an entry team member, training coordinator, entry team leader, and tactical commander. I was involved in numerous critical incidents and recognized multiple times for valorous acts. I am running for sheriff because I have felt the calling to serve the residents of York County and the staff of the sheriff’s office. After the initial closing of filing, I was the first person to announce that I would run, even if that required running as an independent.”

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Beth Bryant Tolson

Tolson, 53, was born and raised in York. She’s served 32 year in law enforcement with York County. “I’m running because of my love for the York County Sheriff’s Office and the people of York County who I have served my entire life,” she said.

Additional info from her campaign website: With over 30 years of experience at the York County Sheriff’s Office, Tolson is running for sheriff and building on a family legacy of law enforcement leadership. As the daughter and wife of former Sheriffs Bruce Bryant and Kevin Tolson, she has a deep understanding of effective law enforcement. Her career has spanned various roles, including patrol officer, detective, lieutenant, and DUI/domestic violence investigator, showcasing her dedication and compassion. Inspired by her spouse Kevin’s successful tenure, Beth aims to continue their legacy, emphasizing professionalism, accountability, and community trust in her bid to lead the Sheriff’s Office.

Tony Breeden

Summary of his background from his campaign website: Raised in South Charlotte and a Myers Park High School graduate, Breeden says he embodies service, dedication, and community values. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving in Okinawa and embassies in Tunisia, Syria, Algeria, and Honduras, which instilled in him a deep sense of duty. After his Marine service, Tony joined the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, then the Rock Hill Police Department in 1995. Rising through the ranks, he showed exceptional leadership, ultimately becoming a Lieutenant and serving on the SWAT team for 25 years. He retired in 2022.

Post-retirement, Tony continues to serve through Inspiration Ministries in Indian Land, SC. He is a devoted husband to Brooke Lessmeister Breeden, a father of three, and maintains a strong faith in Jesus Christ, guiding his values and character.

Tony Breeden’s extensive experience, faith, and commitment to justice make him the ideal candidate for York County Sheriff. He promises to lead with integrity, compassion, and dedication to ensure residents’ safety and well-being.

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...

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2 Comments

  1. Sheriff’s hold a lot of power in this country. Do your research. This is a critical post at this time in our country’s history. Chris Blevins is the one that will uphold the Constitution and stop federal overreach. I think he’ll also maintain the good reputation of the York County Sheriff’s Office. They are all good people.

  2. Why didn’t anyone reported on Heath Clevenger’s racism? He is known for his hatred towards minorities and was famously labeled toxic at the YCSO. When awarded his medal of valor for killing someone, he flashed a klan sign in his picture.? I mean seriously? A klan member running for sheriff here in this county, come on…….

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