Common Staff Writer
The Portsmouth/Scioto County League of Women Voters held their annual meet the candidates’ night on Monday at the Scioto County Welcome Center, with the majority of local candidates in attendance.
Among the candidates in attendance were the candidates for Scioto County Sheriff. The sheriff candidates were asked the most questions of the night.
Among the questions was, “explain the experience you have that would allow you to justify your ability to manage and operate the Scioto County Sheriffs Office.”
“This is the political process; I have no problem with it. I’ve been in the criminal justice system for 34 years; we need politics in the sheriff’s office. It has to happen, things are better that way. The sheriff does not have a security blanket where he is constantly going to stay in office, like a civil service position,” said Marty Donini, Scioto County Sheriff. “I’ve been the sheriff of Scioto County for the last 16 years, I’ve worked with this office I’ve worked with a budget. I’ve lead 73 people at one time I was leading 83 people. We have a general budget of $3.5 million; we have an additional budget of $2 million that comes out of the rotary account and other accounts. None of the other candidates have the experience I have. I grew up in the sheriff’s office I started in 1978 when I was 20 years old. The other two gentlemen do not have a clue what it takes to run the sheriffs office.”
Next to respond to the question was Steve Goins, Candidate for Scioto County Sheriff.
“If I were to be elected sheriff, I would have more supervisory experience within a department than what our current sheriff had when he was first elected,” Goins said. “If elected I will take the job very seriously, as it should be. In my time as a Captain over the last 10 years, I’ve been involved in budgeting, financing, working with 911 communications, implementing vehicle maintenance programs and training programs for the officers.”
Goins is currently a captain with the New Boston Police Department.
“The sheriff’s department and the police depart are the same? We are here to protect and serve our community. There is one thing I’ve been hearing since I announced my candidacy. ‘Mr. Goins, my home has been broken into and I was told someone would come and investigate my crime. It’s been days and weeks after that and knows one has showed up.’ That’s likely the most disrespectful thing a law enforcement officer can do to a crime victim. Mr. Donini might have more supervisory experience than me but, I know how to treat people, I know how to treat crime victims and I will be there for them.”
Next to respond to the question was Charles Horner, Candidate for Scioto County Sheriff.
“A leader is someone that gets out from behind a desk and gets out in the community, talks to people, works with people and makes a difference. I’ve done that,” Horner said. “I’ve managed a 44 person department with a $3.5 million budget. I balanced budgets every year. To say I don’t have experience is wrong. To say I am not a leader is wrong. At speaking engagements throughout this community and others I’ve talked about the drug epidemic and how we can change our community, how people in other communities need to stand up and make a difference to bring attention to an issue that’s devouring the community. I did that. I did not sit behind the desk. I confront the tough issues; I confront the problems in our community. I make a difference in our community. I’ve done it, I’ve talked it, I’ve walked it and I’ve made a difference for 28 years and I want to continue to make a difference in our community.”
Horner is the retired chief of police for the city of Portsmouth.
The question was asked of the Domestic Relations Judge candidates, what if anything would you change in custody or a divorce case to speed up the process.
Current Domestic Relations Judge Jay Willis was the first to respond.
“Our docket runs pretty efficiently and smoothly. I am happy and proud of our docket. We are accountable to and report to the Ohio Supreme Court of Ohio every month, if our cases are behind what they call time guidelines. We do have some case that are behind time guidelines but, most of those are not child custody cases,” Willis said. “Sometimes custody cases will take a while to hear because you have lots and lots of witnesses coming in. I don’t think you can cut down the amount of hearing time, you have to let people have their day in court.”
Next to respond was J.B Marshall, Candidate for Domestic Relations Judge.
“When you get a case in front of you that involves children and you put it off to a next hearing in three to four months that’s to long. You need to attack the issue, got the parties and attorneys into the court and tell them, we need to move forward,” Marshall said. “If you can keep people talking a lot of times they can resolve the situations them selves.”
Next to respond was Jerry Buckler, Candidate for Domestic Relations Judge.
“With all due respect to Judge Willis, there are things that need to be changed in that court. When I have a plaintiff or I have a defendant I can assure they don’t care about Supreme Court time. They care about the time they are away from their child,” Buckler said. “One of the changes I would make is that for far to long this court has been allowing the magistrate to handle all of the hard cases. The judge has handled the easier cases. I would give Judge Willis his due, when he was the magistrate he was worked to death. But, don’t the voters of our county deserve a person they elected to be the judge making decisions about the custody of their children. That’s a change I would make.”
During the event Scioto County Commissioner candidates were asked if they would support any reduction, increase or maintaining sales tax rate.
Donnie Rachford was the first to respond.
“Sine I’m not a county commissioner right now, in order to answer this question I would have to do some studying and find out what our (Scioto County) money situation is,” Rachford said. “When I get into office my goal would be to do what’s right for Scioto County and its residents. If it would help people out to redo our taxes then we will do that. To speculate on what I would do right now, I could not answer that question.”
Tom Reiser was the next to respond.
“Over the past four or five years we’ve financial problems in Scioto County. About four years ago after building the new county jail and the collapse of the world economy. We found our selves with a $3.5 million deficit,” Reiser said. “Since that time we’ve made a number of major changes and today and for the past year our general fund and been in the black. We had an $800,000 deficit in the juvenile detention fund, last month in meeting with our audit committee that debt was eliminated.”
He said the counties financial situation right now is good.
“We have a lot of needs. We have some infrastructure needs, the recorders office needs to get their records online, the engineers office needs to get their information online and it would irresponsible for any of us to say we were going to reduce the tax. As far as increasing the tax, even if we wanted to we could not because we are at the maximum 1.5 percent, along with most of the counties in Ohio,” Reiser said. “I think the responsible thing and really the only answer is sales tax will likely remain exactly where it is.”
Mike Crabtree was the next to respond.
“It’s been a very challenging time for anybody to serve as county commissioner with the instability that we’ve had with our budget. The local government funds have been reduced every year and there have been a number of things that have affected the county budget,” Crabtree said. “With the instability we have and the way fuel prices have gone up and down. I think it would take some considerable thought before we would consider reducing the tax.”
The county reported collecting $888,278.35 in permissive sales tax in August, $505,000 ahead of last years estimates.
Among the other candidates in attendance were, Gail Alley and Bill Warnock, candidates for Scioto County Recorder. Marie Hoover, candidate for Fourth District Court of Appeals; Dr. Terry Johnson and John Haas, candidates for the 90th district of the Ohio House of Representatives and Scott Rupert, candidate for U.S. Senate.
“In my memory in all of the years I’ve been doing this and even in the memory of more senior members than I am. We have the largest number of candidates ever attending a meet the candidates night,” said Marilee Stephenson, co-president of Portsmouth/Scioto County League of Women Voters.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-1151, or firstname.lastname@example.org.