No one can doubt that John Soldano wants to be sheriff of Columbiana County. His passion for the job is evident in the fact that he has run for election three times prior and has never won voter approval. Although this time, his fourth run, will doubtfully be his last, we still do not believe he is the best man for the job.
Current Sheriff Ray Stone wants to keep his job and we think he should.
Stone was drafted by the Republican Party to fill the job vacated by the resignation of David Smith, and appeared to be a reluctant candidate when he first ran four years ago. Despite his reluctance, however, Stone has adapted well to the job and taken several steps to place more deputies on the road without additional funding.
First, he streamlined civil operations that resulted in two more deputies on the road to protect the public. Additionally, Stone revamped video arraignments by having employees at the county jail monitor the arraignments rather than having a deputy perform the job. This move freed up another deputy for an additional two and a half hours per day.
He has proven adept at obtaining both federal and state grants that have improved the sheriff's department and protected his deputies. He improved the deputies' bulletproof vests and their handguns at no cost to taxpayers. He obtained the first tasers for the department and, through a COPS technology grant, was able to equip each cruiser with a laptop computer.
He has upgraded the patrol car tires to police-grade tires, which are rated for high speed and safer to drive on. He was also able to get MARCS radio for the department in August 2008 and the packs for the trunks of the vehicles to help bounce the signals into some of the areas of the county without service.
Stone said he has also started charging $5 for transport fees when county jail inmates have to be taken to municipal court, with the fee being paid by the defendant. He also revamped the foreclosure appraisal process by requiring only certified appraisers be used.
But there is also the issue of the seemingly growing list of unsolved murders and questionable deaths in the county, a list inherited from past sheriffs. Stone said he and his detectives have conducted thorough investigations but there are cases that are simply unsolvable at this point. He said some of the investigations have been completed and referred to the county prosecutor's office, and it is the prosecutor's decision whether to seek an indictment based on the available evidence.
Soldano has some good ideas and has been a good police chief in Leetonia. He would no doubt bring a certain energy level to the job, but don't mistake Stone's low-key demeanor for inaction. He has frequently demonstrated an ability to think creatively when addressing a problem and squeezing the most out of his tight budget to put more deputies on the road, and those efforts have paid off.
Therefore, we endorse Ray Stone for another term as sheriff of Columbiana County.