CARDINGTON — More than 150 residents listened to a dozen candidates at the County Candidates Forum at the American Legion Hall on Tuesday Feb. 11. The forum to introduce candidates running in the March 17 primary was sponsored by the group Forward Morrow.
Candidates spent most of their allotted time talking about their reason for running and their qualifications for the positions. However, Morrow County Prosecutor candidates Andrew Wick and Thomas Smith traded a couple jabs as they spoke about their goals for the office.
Smith said, “Mr. Wick has been very good at selecting which cases go to trial. A vast majority of cases that he has taken have ended in some kind of plea and conviction; so there has been a handful that we have had have gone to trial and have not ended well for us. But those are always the weakest cases that we prosecute the ones that go to a trial.”
Wick said that in some cases he had no choice but to recommend pleading out. He acknowledged he has defended some of the worst criminals.
Responding to an audience member’s question, Wick replied, “The fact of the matter is that my job requires me to take on some of the most distasteful things that I can imagine. The truth is I am required by law, and I believe it is my responsibility, to best provide representation to each person that comes across my desk.
“As a court-appointed attorney I don’t get to choose who I represent. I don’t get to choose which cases I take to trial. My responsibility is to my client. If you elect me, you will be my client and I will fight tooth and nail, as hard-nosed as I do for my clients, for you.”
When asked what to do to reduce the crime rate, Smith pointed to the need to work with law enforcement. He said his phone number is always available to them.
“Most of my victims have my personal cellphone number, most members of law enforcement at least have access, I know the detectives in the county have access to my personal cellphone number,” Smith said.
Wick said better communication and education with law enforcement officers and heads of departments is needed. Sometimes victims back out and better victim witness communication is needed.
“Just about south of here there is an organization (Renergy) that is bringing human waste into our county. It is turning our beautiful county into a wasteland. There needs to be decisive action taken down in Westfield.”
Smith said, “Morrow County is a great place to live and I want to make it safe for the residents in the county. He also wants to protect children and fight for victims’ rights.
“All cases can’t be won,” Smith said. “But I’d rather be the prosecutor who tried than the prosecutor who did nothing.”
• In the County Recorder’s race, both incumbent Dixie Shinaberry and challenger Brandon Strain spoke of plans to update the technology in the office.
Shinaberry said, “We are updating the website, looking into putting documents online and establishing standard conveyance records. We’re also looking into taking credit cards.”
Strain said he plans to be a full-time recorder, when asked about his work as an auctioneer. He will continue doing only limited work as an auctioneer.
“I would like to have more access to the Recorder’s office with more hours,” Strain said. “More updates are needed in conveyance standards that haven’t been updated for many years.”
Strain said he believes his experience in the Morrow County Engineer’s office in updating their GIS mapping system from paper to digital would be helpful in the Recorder’s office.
Shinaberry said she will look at ways to work with other agencies and the community to make improvements at Hidden Lakes and other county projects. She said she believes she was called by the Lord to run for another term, rather than retiring.
Strain said a primary goal would be to have a one-stop shop for County Recorder’s business. He would like to improve the technology to provide more online services as the county grows.
• Unopposed candidates who spoke were Michael Goff, Republican candidate for County Treasurer; Kimberly Bood, Republican candidate for County Clerk of Courts; and Morrow County Sheriff John Hinton, Republican candidate seeking re-election.
• Nancy Foglesong also took questions concerning the Morrow DD 1.5 mill levy on the ballot.