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Treasurer's Office problems made Henderson the reluctant petition candidate

Doug Henderson, who wants to challenge Beaufort County treasurer Joy Logan in the November general election, answers questions July 15 after dropping of his signed petitions at the county Board of Voter Registration and Elections.
Doug Henderson, who wants to challenge Beaufort County treasurer Joy Logan in the November general election, answers questions July 15 after dropping of his signed petitions at the county Board of Voter Registration and Elections. Jonathan Dyer • The Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet

The findings of a 2005 audit of the Beaufort County Treasurer's Office always bothered Doug Henderson.

Detailing problems with financial controls in the department, the report would surely provide campaign fodder for anyone seeking to unseat incumbent Treasurer Joy Logan, Henderson thought.

"I read the (audit) and I was appalled," he said. "I thought, 'Well, surely someone will come up and run. I'm not a politician.'

"Nobody ever stepped up. I regretted then not running."

Problems again surfaced within the Treasurer's Office in late 2009 when the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office was brought in to help find missing money from a delinquent tax sale. The subsequent investigation accused Casaundra White, a former Treasurer's Office employee, of funneling more than $210,000 between September 2007 and May 2008 to dummy corporations she and her ex-boyfriend, Adrian Coore, set up.

Henderson again waited for someone to oppose Logan, a Republican who has run unchallenged in every general election since taking office in 1991.

"I waited past the (March 30 primary filing deadline) and nothing happened," Henderson said. "It got more frustrating to me.

"My wife and I were sitting out on the porch one Sunday afternoon and I said, 'I think I'm going to do this. I can't walk away from this. If not me, then who?' "

Henderson, a 66-year-old retired banker and Cat Island resident, announced in May his intentions to run for county treasurer as a petition candidate, which would require him to collect signatures from at least 5 percent -- or 4,720 -- of the county's 94,393 registered voters by July 15 to appear on the ballot in November's general election.

Having outlasted two other potential petition candidates, Henderson submitted 9,690 signatures covering 1,043 pages two weeks ago to the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, which must verify the signatures by Aug. 16.

HENDERSON'S EXPERIENCE

A native of Spartanburg, Henderson holds degrees in banking from the University of South Carolina and Louisiana State University. He spent 35 years in the banking industry. Most of those years, he said, were spent traveling the state to help ailing regional banks get back in financial shape.

His banking career included two brief stints in Beaufort with S.C. National Bank and later with First Citizen's Bank and Trust of South Carolina before his first retirement, in 2002.

Henderson said his experience as a bank executive should serve him well should he be elected treasurer.

"Obviously government and the private sector are different in a lot of ways, but they're very similar when you're talking about controls and the handling of cash and checks," Henderson said. "One thing I've learned in my career is that there are two things you don't mess with: people's family and their money. With the Treasurer's Office, this is people's money we're talking about."

In 2003, Henderson was coaxed from retirement by a friend to work for the county Assessor's Office to perform property assessments. He retired from the county in July 2009.

READY TO WORK SOME MORE

Lindel Henderson, Henderson's wife of 48 years, knew of her husband's discontent with the state of the Treasurer's Office but never thought he would again put retirement on hold -- to run for office.

"I never dreamt he would actually do this," she said. "He never gave any indication that he was going to get political, but once he said he wanted to do it, I was behind him all the way. Doug is the kind of person that you know you can trust. You just know that in his heart, he's trying to do the right thing."

During the campaign's infancy, Doug Henderson met Sun City Hilton Head residents Charlie Mitchell and Wally Hollinger, who said they were instantly taken by his passion to help repair the Treasurer's Office.

"I was really just going to sign his petition but a spark lit up, and now I'm his campaign manager," Mitchell said. "Doug is just a darn-good nice guy and very knowledgeable. He's not interested in playing politics, he's just interested in better government."

"He just strikes you as a guy you can trust, and a guy you want to do business with," Hollinger added.

Henderson also garnered support from a number of local political leaders, including Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort.

Davis said he threw his support behind Henderson by helping to get the word out about his candidacy.

"Doug has an excellent reputation in the community and experience in financial matters, and so when he started the difficult process of collecting all the signatures he needed to appear on the ballot, I was happy to help," Davis said. "Now the people will have a choice next November, and that's how it should be."

Henderson said giving voters a choice has been his goal all along.

"I want people to know that I'm doing this for the right reasons," Henderson said. "It's not because I need the job; I don't need the money. I want to fix something that's wrong. I think I can make a difference."

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