Tribune endorses local candidates for election

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 30, 2004

Tribune editorial board

In two days Lawrence County voters will make a number of choices - choices that will select leadership for the county, state and nation.

This morning we choose to offer our nod of approval to several candidates in several key local races.

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In the two races for Lawrence County Commissioner, two incumbents, George Patterson and Jason Stephens, face challengers Ken Ater and Mark Malone, respectively.

We've interviewed each of the four. We've talked about the issues, their stances and what they hope to do for the county.

Unfortunately our two favorites of the four are running against one another.

Former commissioner Mark Malone impressed us with his plans for the county and his positive message, but his opponent, Stephens, tops him on our list. Stephens' financial background and professionalism should continue to provide stable leadership on the commission.

While we love George Patterson as a man and respect his long service to this county, we feel it is time for a change in leadership. Patterson has taken heat over being in office during the demise of Ironton's River Valley Hospital. Patterson alone isn't responsible for the hospital's closure, he and others in positions of power and influence who either ignored the signs of trouble or allowed themselves to be misled into believing that nothing was wrong, do share at least a fraction of the blame.

Patterson's opponent Ken Ater brings a number of good issues to the forefront, including the need for some kind of zoning control and the development of a long-range strategic plan for the county. His fresh approach earns our vote.

In the race for county sheriff, the incumbent, Sheriff Tim Sexton, faces Chesapeake Police Chief Russell Bennett Jr. Sexton easily outpaces Bennett in terms of management experience and knowledge. Sexton has done well with the dwindling finances provided to him. We hope the county will show support, not only for Sexton, but also for providing more dollars to help support law enforcement.

Lawrence County is split in terms of Ohio House seats. In District 87, incumbent Clyde Evans' experience, both in the House and in his educational endeavors, puts him head and shoulders above Philip Roberts II. Roberts' enthusiasm will go a long way for him at some point, but right now, he's over matched.

District 89 Todd Book earns our support. With only one term under his belt, Book has yet to show his full potential to the constituents in Lawrence County. But we feel his continued growth and experience as an attorney could prove invaluable to southern Ohio. His challenger, Richard Holt will, we feel sure, eventually win a political seat, but we're not convinced he's the best choice in this face-off.

Many of the other area races are largely administrative in nature including county treasurer, county recorder and county clerk of courts races. In these races all of the candidates seem capable of doing the jobs required.

Regardless of which candidate you choose, please choose one and please make sure you vote on Tuesday.