Incumbent Ross County Sheriff George Lavender is being challenged by former sheriff's deputy Dale Gillette in the November election. Sheriff Lavender said the department was in trouble when he came into office, and he believes he's brought the department a long way.
"I want to lead, and I feel this is the highest part of my occupation; the highest in my occupation is to be able to lead an agency," said Lavender, "and I feel we've done a good job; we put a management structure in place that has been very good to this community in helping to restore what had to be done at the sheriff's office."
He explained the general issues he faced: "When I came in, there was a $700,000 budget reduction, . . . there was a lack of accountability in the office, and morale issues."
Challenger Dale Gillette said, if elected, he would do things differently than Lavender.
"George Lavender states that he has no money to bring detectives on and constantly says that there's money issues, but according to the Chillicothe Gazette, he's has turned in several hundred thousand dollars over the last couple of years," said Gillette, "and I think that maybe instead of turning money in, if the commissioners allocate this money to the sheriff, we ought to spend it."
Sheriff Lavender, however, said he came into office with budget deficits and talk of layoffs, so he had to taper-down on the amount of people being laid-off as 8 were cut in 2008 and a mid-year budget called for 13 more in 2009.
"This county would have suffered greatly, laying off those numbers," Lavender said.
In the war against drug crime, Gillette said that Sheriff Lavender focuses on the big dealers more than the users: "I believe we need to go after the users because the users are the ones that's actually breaking into your homes and stealing stuff, trying to support a habit. I think if we hit the users, the problem with the bigger dealers will go away."