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Letter: Candidates should debate

Friday, July 2, 2010

To the Editor:

A few weeks ago, I heard that the candidates for Marshall County sheriff had collectively decided to refuse to participate in the upcoming political debate being sponsored by this newspaper. This rumor was confirmed by the article that ran in the June 22nd edition.

Debates, such as this one, provide candidates for a particular elected office with a public forum to discuss issues and highlight the differences between themselves and the other candidates. It gives the candidates an opportunity to outline their platforms and demonstrate how their ideas and plans for the office they are seeking differ from their opponents, thus making them the best choice for the voters.

I am sure that many of my fellow voters would like to hear the candidates' plans and ideas on how they will address a variety of issues facing the sheriff's office and Marshall County. Issues such as:

* Issues - What do the candidates perceive as the most significant issues facing the Marshall County Sheriff's Office? How will they address those issues?

* Budget - Specifics on how they plan to meet the budget crisis facing Marshall County and the Sheriff's Office. What are their plans regarding employee salaries, take-home vehicles, School Resource Officers, etc.

* Manpower - Should the number of Deputies be increased? If so, how would that be accomplished? Or, does the candidate believe the Sheriff's Office currently has sufficient resources to serve Marshall County? What are their plans for the organizational structure of the Sheriff's Office?

* Jail - What are the candidates' plans for the jail? Would they support expanded use of inmates for performing work around Marshall County such as picking up litter, mowing public areas, etc?

* Leadership/Management Experience - What experience with management, supervision, budgeting, law enforcement, and jail management do the candidates have that qualifies them for the Office of Sheriff?

* Consolidation of Dispatch Services - Do the candidates support the consolidation of public safety dispatch services in Marshall County? Why or why not?

These, and perhaps a few more questions, are ones I would have been very interested in hearing the candidates debate. I believe many other voters in Marshall County would have been interested as well.

I have to say that I am very disappointed in the decision by these candidates to not take part in the debate. I believe the voters in Marshall County deserve an opportunity to learn more about the candidates for this very important office.

I am pleased to see that the candidates for the Mayor's Office have decided to participate and I look forward to hearing their discussions on many of the issues that the citizens are concerned about. It is a shame that the candidates for Sheriff have banded together to deprive the voters of the same opportunity. Perhaps the Tribune would consider compiling a list of questions similar to those listed above, submit them to the candidates, and publish their responses.

Chuck Forbis

Lewisburg