PDT 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, the incumbent Republican 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 led 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, Donini’s Democratic opponent.
“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 department 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 no 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, running as an independent.
“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 former chief of police for the City of Portsmouth who retired this year.
A question was asked of the Domestic Relations Judge candidates, what, if anything, would you change in a custody or a divorce case to speed up the process?
Incumbent 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 cases 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, a 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 too long. You need to attack the issue, get 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 themselves.”
Next to respond was Jerry Buckler, also a 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 too 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.”
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.
Scioto County Commissioners candidates Tom Reiser, Mike Crabtree and Donnie Rachford. Dr. Terry Johnson and John Haas, candidates for the 90th district of the Ohio House of Representatives and Scott Rupert, independent 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 can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.