Election Day mattered in law enforcement matters
November 7, 2014
The candidates who compete to become the Summit County attorney and the Summit County sheriff the top two law enforcement positions in the county — do not campaign on a ticket together.
Their individual campaigns may stress similar issues since both the positions are critical to the safety and well-being of the community, but the winners do not answer to one another once they are in office nor do they answer to a superior in the County Courthouse’s government structure.
Voters on Tuesday ousted County Attorney David Brickey, a Republican, in favor of the Democratic candidate, retired district court Judge Robert Hilder. It was, in a way, the most notable local result on Election Day given the importance of the position and the impressive figures who were on the ballot. The voters also elected Justin Martinez, a captain in the Sheriff’s Office, to succeed Sheriff Dave Edmunds. It was among the easiest choices on the ballot.
In January, when the winners take office, Summit County will be faced with the rare situation of having newcomers in the two critical law enforcement positions. Both of the men are able, of course. Martinez will ascend from the No. 2 position in the Sheriff’s Office while Hilder will take office with an extraordinary reputation built during his time on the bench.
A changeover like the one that will occur in January brings with it some trepidation nonetheless.
Martinez, it seems, intends to present a friendlier law enforcement agency than the current sheriff does. The more pressing issue is whether he will continue the crime-fighting success of Edmunds. The current sheriff, to his credit, is concerned with results far more than presentation. Martinez, having served under Edmunds, must acknowledge the successes even as he molds a law enforcement agency befitting his own platform.
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What the upcoming change in county attorneys will bring to law enforcement in Summit County is much more difficult to anticipate. Hilder is adamant he will not be soft on crime. Yet his campaign stressed the civil side of the county attorney position the side that leads Summit County’s litigation efforts and provides legal advice to other departments in matters like planning and zoning.
Hilder seemed to suggest before Election Day that Brickey could, perhaps, serve as a prosecutor under Hilder if the incumbent was beaten. Maybe it was a campaign-trail quip, but it also appeared to be further acknowledgement of his interest in the civil side of the office.
Hilder must show he will keep the community safe from crime with the same vigor he intends to demonstrate in keeping the County Courthouse safe from lawsuits.