August 18, 2012

Editorial: Sheriff candidates leave little to be desired

The Express-Star

GRADY COUNTY — One of the worst things about our electoral system is when there isn't a good candidate to vote for.

We find this to be the case in Grady County sheriff's race.

The actions of both Jim Weir (R ) and Jeff Franklin (D) reflect those of men more interested in notoriety and holding office than serving the people.

Both have jumped on the anti-Sheriff Art Kell bandwagon and have attempted to ride that train into office.

The problem is this does nothing for the people. Weir received unemployment compensation after being fired as Kell's undersheriff two years ago until just recently. He used money, provided for him by the tax payers, to survive for the duration of the Republican Primary race. In April of this year he sited a "lack of work" as his reason for needing unemployment. We find this confusing, as Weir is a former officer who has served both in local law enforcement and the military.

It seems strange, that he would have trouble finding work in law enforcement for over 15 months, but we suppose it is possible. It is interesting that this candidate is asking for the voters to give him a job when, apparently, no one else will.

Despite this, Weir does bring a wealth of experience to the table. He wants to create new jobs and deputize police forces all over the county in an effort to reduce response time and strengthen security. This idea may, or may not, work. It could overload certain areas with law enforcement and leave others devoid of police, or it could allow for incidents to stopped at an early time preventing escalation. Only time will tell if he is elected.

Franklin has also spent a long time in law enforcement. He has been a police chief in both Alex and Verden. These credentials are more than impressive.

The downside of Franklin's career is how he left his job in Verden. Franklin was terminated after a little more than two years as police chief for reasons that are widely whispered, but not confirmed.

This begs the question, why should the voters elect a man that was fired as the leader of a law enforcement agency that is significantly smaller than the Grady County Sheriff's Department?

Unfortunately asking Franklin about his dismissal is a difficult task. The election board has no contact information for him, he does not have a campaign site and his campaign email either doesn't work, or isn't read.

His platform does include adding officers to the more rural areas of Grady County. Securing these outlying cities could have wonderful consequences. Adding deputies almost always sounds like a good idea, but the tax payers will have to foot the bill. Given the current sheriff's budget, adding new positions would be very difficult without reallocating funds from other departments or raising taxes.

Regardless of who the voters elect, we think this race will end up having a negative outcome. We would love to be wrong in this regard, but with no write in option and the registration for candidacy deadline having past, we just hope regardless of who is elected the new sheriff will take the citizen's needs into account over their agenda.

Editorials represent a consensus on an issue by the editorial board of The Express-Star. The editorial board is comprised of the publisher, managing editor and other Express-Star staff members.