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Lawless to seek fourth term

Sheriff says he will run on his record of service

The election for Lawrence County Sheriff is two years away, but the race is already shaping up.

Incumbent Jeff Lawless announced this week that he will seek a fourth term in office.

The sheriff, a Republican, was elected in 2008.

His announcement comes as Ironton Police Detective Captain Joe Ross announced that he will make a run for the office as a Democrat.

Lawless said he is proud to run on his record as sheriff.

“I have a good, clean record,” he said. “And we have provided great service with the monies provided to us.”

Lawless said he has been “honest and trustworthy” in the office and has not engaged in favoritism of any kind.

“I’ve arrested family members, as well as officers,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”

He said one of his goals for another term is to continue to battle the addiction epidemic in the region.

“Drugs affect everything,” he said. “I would certainly keep up the fight to help protect citizens.”

Ross had raised the ongoing issue of the county jail, in which prisoners from Lawrence County are being housed in other counties, due to overcrowding.

Lawless said the issue has been a complicated one, with no easy solution. He said, the way things stand financially; it is cheaper for the county to house inmates elsewhere than to build and operate a new jail at this time.

“The jail has been a continuing problem for many sheriffs before me,” he said. “It’s a very complex issue. Many politicians have campaigned that they’re going to fix the jail problem, then they get in and discover how complicated it is.”

He said he agrees with Ross that more deputies are needed on the road, but that this would create an additional cost.

He took issue with Ross’ pledge that he would have ways to bring in revenue outside of taxpayer money.

“It is illegal for a sheriff to solicit money,” Lawless said. “Law enforcement can never be for profit, or that leads to corruption. I will never be a party to corruption. If people want a sheriff for sale, they can vote for the other guy. I will never be corrupt.”

Lawless cited his record in office as a reason for re-election.

“There have been big cases solved,” he said. “The biggest accomplishment is keeping this sheriff’s office and jail functioning at the level it provides  good service to the county with the minimal staff we have.”

Lawless praised his staff, who he said are “dedicated to the citizens.”

On the drug front, he pointed to his office’s work with the county’s drug task force.

“We’re averaging 70 arrests a year, and a 100 percent conviction rate,” he said.

He said his office has also been focused on service to schools in the county.

“We’ll continue our effort to keep children safe,” he said.

He also cited the successful manhunt by deputies and law enforcement agencies, following a quadruple homicide in Decatur Township last year.

“We got a quadruple murderer off the streets and arrested, and prevented the public from being harmed,” he said.

Lawless cited his experience in office and said he hopes to build on success.

“I am very educated on how this office works and we will continue to move the county in a positive direction,” he said.