The upcoming election for Scioto County Prosecutor pits incumbent Republican Shane Tieman against newcomer and Democrat Rachel Daehler.
Tieman, 45, only became county prosecutor in July tabbed by the county Republican Party to replace his former boss Mark Kuhn who was named to a seat on the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas. However, Tieman has been with the prosecutor’s office in one way or another since 1999 working in both the criminal and civil divisions. He touts that experience as key in the race against Daehler.
“This is first and foremost a law enforcement position,” Tieman said. He said the office deals with felonies, along with juvenile offenders and serves as legal advisor to all branches of Scioto County government and related officials. Tieman contends he is the only candidate with experience in all those areas. “I have 20 years experience, over half of it in law enforcement… I’ve handled thousands of cases from beginning to end.” Tieman adds he has lost track of the number of jury trials he has handled over the years.
For her part, Daehler does not seem intimidated by Tieman’s experience, arguing she herself has knowledge of every facet of the legal process, as she put it, “from initial intake to verdict.”
“The most important task of a prosecutor,” Daehler said, “ is properly evaluating a case and determining how to appropriately charge the defendant. I have the experience and integrity necessary to make those crucial decisions. I believe Scioto County is ready for new leadership.”
Daehler is a Portsmouth native who graduated from Portsmouth High School and later, Shawnee State University. She earned her law degree from Capital University Law School in 2013. Now associate with the law office of local attorney Jeremy Burnside, she previously served with the Licking County prosecutor’s office as an assistant county prosecutor in the felony division. Tieman notes his opponent’s time with that prosecutor’s office amounted to only about a year or so.
On her Facebook page, which Daehler said makes up a significant aspect of her campaign, the challenger talks about bringing a new perspective to the prosecutor’s office. In talking to the Daily Times, Daehler said as she travels around the county, voters tell her county government has a public relations problem, that residents feel it is neither fair nor transparent.
“The overall feeling in the community is, they can’t trust their government officials,” said Daehler, 30, who admits she is a young candidate and actually seems somewhat proud of that fact. “I’m not your typical candidate and I think that’s a good thing.”
Daehler talked about how she moved away from her native Portsmouth but also how she and her husband decided they wanted to move back. “We wanted to come back and give back as much as possible.” She adds she realized she had always wanted to run for office. Husband Jay Daehler is the treasurer for the community group Friends of Portsmouth.
One thing both candidates agree on is the opioid crisis in the county is probably the number one issue. While Tieman says he and his office are necessarily tough on crime and will continue to be so, he said the public has a false impression his office locks up drug abusers and throws away the key.
“We work with our various counseling agencies,” Tieman said, adding his office tries to help addicts get the treatment they need, working with three different drug courts. Tieman adds he reviewed the local jail population in September and found only 37 of 931 offenders were behind bars on non-trafficking drug-related charges.
“You can’t incarcerate your way out of this issue,” Daehler contends. She added she likes and has studied the approach of Lawrence County where she said officials use a combination of intervention programs and an opioid crisis team. Daehler specifically noted the Lawrence County prosecutor is a Republican, but she still admires his methods. “This is not a partisan issue.”
Both Tieman and Daehler came out against state Issue I, a proposal for a state constitutional amendment largely decriminalizing possession of many drugs, which supporters say would free up jail space and allow for the redirection of jail and some law enforcement funding into rehabilitation programs. Both prosecutor candidates said among other problems they don’t like the idea of Issue I being a constitutional amendment. Tieman noted if the approach proved ineffective, a huge effort would be needed to again change the Ohio Constitution.
In concluding her comments, Daehler once again touched on the issue of experience. She admitted Tieman does have plenty of it, but added it is fair to consider, especially in the case of the opioid issue, what exactly that experience has gained Scioto County.
Tieman objected to Daehler’s portrayal of Scioto County government in general. “I’m trying to stay on message… I’ll just stack my experience up against hers and let the voters decide.”