2008-03-01 / News

Candidates in their own words

BUCKEYE LAKE AREA - Tuesday, March 4 is Ohio's primary election. The spotlight is on the race to for the Democratic Party's nomination for president.

However, there are a number of important races at the county level. Four races - Fairfield County Clerk of Courts, FairfieldCounty Sheriff, Licking County Prosecutor and Licking County Sheriff - will be decided in the Republican primary on Tuesday. No Democrats filed for these posts.

So to help readers make their choices in these four elections, the Beacon surveyed the eight candidates. All eight responded.

Candidates were asked to explain, in 175 words or less, what they believe are the two most important issues facing the officethey are seeking and how they would address those issues. The second question asked them to explain in 75 words or less why they should receive your vote.

Word limits are strictly observed so some responses may have been edited to meet the limits. FairfieldCounty Clerk of Courts David Hackmann

1.

A.) Missing money: In my current position, I handle more money in a day than the Clerk's Officedoes in a year. I haven't lost a penny, much less $1,000 as my opponent has. As clerk, I will make sure that safeguards are in place to prevent this from happening again.

B.) Allegations of election law violations. I will not accept donations from my employees or intimidate them into "volunteering" to assist on my campaign. I will run a clerk's office that provides timely service while treating the employees with the respect and dignity that they deserve. There will be no scandals or fiascos.

2. I have 25 years of public service with the Lancaster Police Dept. and the FairfieldCounty Sheriff's Office. Over 22 of those years was as a supervisor managing county employees. Three years ago, party officials appointed the spouse of the party vice-chairman to be clerk with no qualificationsor experience managing public employees. I will restore the competence, professionalism and sound management that FairfieldCounty deserves. Deborah Smalley

1. When I took officethree years ago, it took over six weeks to get a case filed. Today I have eliminated that delay from six weeks to less than 24 hours. This has been accomplished without additional personnel and with the case load doubling over the past three years. I will continue to increase our productivity by the team building approach I have developed plus the cross training of all employees. I will continue to make the positive changes to better serve the FairfieldCounty Court System and to better serve the general public.

I have been successful in increasing the revenue for the county to just over $40 million dollars in 2007. This increase has been a direct result in establishing a professional, efficient, and effective title officeat both the Lancaster and the Pickerington office.This increase has occurred even when the automobile business as been in a decline.

I will continue to implement my successful private business experience to maximize all of the officesproductivity and service possible.

2. I have a strong desire to continue to serve the citizens of FairfieldCounty. I know my management skills of 20 years will help the officeof the Clerk of Courts realize the maximum potential possible. I have demonstrated my dedication to serve the public with excellence and with a standard which is above reproach. My life experiences will be my main source of reference in making the necessary decisions for the Clerk of Courts. Sheriff Darrell J. Ball

1. Although I feel there are more than two major issues with the sheriff's office,the two most important issues are the antiquated radio system and the deficient auxiliary program.

Communications at a countywide level is important because it not only protects law enforcement, but firepersonnel and citizens. The current system does not adequately cover all areas of the county. As sheriff, my goal is to implement a sound communication system.

The auxiliary program needs to be utilized to its full potential. Auxiliary deputies are officersthat are certified peace officersthat have the same powers as a full-time deputy. These individuals donate their time to the community at no costs to the residents. Not only can they be placed in alerted crime areas, they can be used as double units and paired with full-time officersto reduce response times. As sheriff, I would re-institute the academy in order to train individuals to become law enforcement officers.

2. I have 18 1/2 years of working experience within the sheriff's officein all facets including fiscal management, administration and public relations. I have a better knowledge of the community needs. Properly managing the sheriff's officeextends beyond its own doors. With my years of service, and the relationships I have made with the police departments, county agencies, businesses and the citizens of this county, I can effectively be a proactive leader versus a reactive leader. Dave Phalen

1. I believe the two most important issues facing the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office are growth problems and illegal drugs. The continuing increase in population could cause more traffic issues, continue to expand jail population and cause other growth-related issues for the sheriff's office.To address these concerns we created the mobile Community Watch Program - volunteers patrolling our neighborhoods to report suspicious activity. Community outreach and safety training have been a cornerstone of my administration. By engaging our citizens, we will continue to have a safe and secure community.

We will continue to work cooperatively with all other agencies in the county, continue efforts with community partnerships and continue to look for budget solutions.

Drugs continue to be an issue affecting our community. We created the Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Unit. They have arrested hundreds of drug dealers and confiscated thousands of dollars of illegal drugs. We have been partnershipping with all county schools, churches and civic organizations to educate and provide valuable information to our youth.

2. I request voters support me because I know what needs to be done and am committed to working with others to improve this great county. I have 38 years of law enforcement experience and have turned my officeinto one of the best sheriff's officesin the state. We did this by improving every aspect of the office.With your support, I can continue the work you elected me to do. Licking County Prosecutor Jody Richter

1. The two most important issues facing the Licking County Prosecutor's Office:

1. Leadership.

Reputable mangers lead by example. I will maintain an open door policy and expect that all supervisors in my officedo the same. Questions and open debate will be strongly encouraged while isolation and indignation will be strictly prohibited. I believe in clearly communicating guidelines and standards to those who work for me. I will work to recruit and retain employees who are willing and able to meet or exceed the expectations of the citizenry they serve.

2. Justice.

The pursuit of justice is important for every victim. The criminal justice system is sometimes a long and arduous process that can be overwhelming. All victims deserve to be reassured that a competent and dedicated attorney will be standing up to argue their case. Whether the case is theft, vandalism, or murder, the members of this community deserve the same respect, caring, and dedication from the prosecutor tasked with the responsibility of pursing justice on their behalf. It is the Prosecutor's obligation to display this work ethic and require the same from their employees.

2. Why should the voters support my candidacy?

I am invested in this community. I will bring a fresh perspective and invigorating level of dedication to the office.I have the qualifications, experience, and ability to be Licking County's next Prosecutor. I will work to give the citizens of Licking County what they deserve, a Prosecutor's officethat is victim-oriented, accessible to the public, efficient and effective in its representation of its civil clients, and relentless in its pursuit of justice. Kenneth W. Oswalt

1. The two most important issues facing the Licking County Prosecutor's Office:

1. Reducing delays in the criminal justice system and increasing sentences for repeat and serious offenders. Delays must be reduced by taking steps to remove cases from the trial docket sooner in the process. In cooperation with the judges, and the law enforcement community, I have initiated a change that will allow felony cases to be taken from an arrest directly to a guilty plea in substantially less time than currently occurs. As for repeat and serious offenders, two things must be done: more juvenile offenders need to be considered for prosecution as adults, and repeat and serious offenders must be charged and sentenced more strictly both of which I am aggressively pursuing.

2. Providing top quality legal services to county and township clients. This is accomplished by a commitment as I have done to make sure that I remain accessible to my county and township clients, while at the same time being both proactive in foreseeing new issues that may affect them, while at the same time being responsive to their specific requests.

2. Why voters should support me:

Experience and dedication. For over 20 years I have prosecuted criminals for the citizens of Licking County. During that time I have been involved in all aggravated murder cases that have come through the prosecutor's office.I am the only candidate that has even prosecuted an aggravated murder case. In addition, I am the only candidate who has experience with the legal issues that routinely face the county and township elected officer-holders. Sheriff Gerry Billy

1.The Sheriff should take the lead role in conducting a system-wide criminal justice needs assessment for Licking County. The term needs assessment refers to the collection and analysis of information required to determine the nature and extent of crime in Licking County, our residents' perception of crime and finally, how they are affected by it. Both community engagement and problem-solving are important ingredients in the success of any assessment effort and the subsequent development of a strategic plan. Continuing to make uninformed decisions without a clearly definedplan for implementation is a receipt for failure.

A greater emphasis must be placed on the rights and needs of victims of crime. A reactive model of dealing with crime without regard for the impact of the crime on the victim(s) does little to foster community support and agency trust. This new approach towards crime would respect the dignity and equality of each person, build understanding and promote social harmony through healing of victims, offenders and communities. This may also prevent the forming of new criminals. Randy Thorp

1. The two most pressing issues are radio communications and equipment technology upgrades.

For the past two years the officeas a part of the 911 Steering Committee has worked diligently to improve the interoperability of radio communications for all public safety forces in the county. Through a grant, radios were purchased and distributed to all police and fireagencies in the county to achieve this goal. The second phase of the interoperability project is currently ongoing and addresses the integrity of the systems towers and related transmitting equipment.

The officerecently upgraded all cruisers with new radar units and we are working on a project that would place on board videos and mobile data transmitters in every cruiser. The MDT'S as they are called, would allow deputies to produce reports and directly download them into our records management system. We are also currently involved in a project to obtain mobile live scan units that would allow deputies, using electronic fingerprint technology, to check the identity of individuals instantly while out in the field.

2. Why voters should support me:

In 2004 I was elected as Sheriff of Licking County to look out for the best interest of the officeas well as the community, and I have done just that. I have not backed away from tough decisions, I am engaged with the operations and needs of the officeand the community and I do not take time away from my duties to pursue any personal business adventures.

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