Republicans have held the sheriff’s office for more than 60 years.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LISBON — Three local law enforcement officials have been endorsed for the Columbiana County sheriff’s seat that incumbent David Smith may not keep.
An endorsement meeting held by the Columbiana County Republican Party Saturday produced three “highly qualified” candidates, according to party chairman David Johnson.
Smith, who is seeking re-election, faces a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in Guernsey County. Sheriffs cannot run for office if they have been convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, such as the one Smith faces, or a felony. He awaits trial Feb. 21.
Republican candidates Daniel “Skip” MacLean, Jerry Herbert and Raymond Stone will vie for the their party’s nomination in March.
A test showed Smith had 0.222 percent alcohol in his urine, which is more than twice the legal limit. If Smith is disqualified, the Republican party will have viable candidates in the primary.
MacLean and Herbert are both retired, longtime veterans of the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Department, currently serving as security officers in the municipal court system. Both have maintained all the professional credentials necessary to assume the sheriff’s post, Johnson said.
Stone is currently serving as the Perry Township chief of police.
“We had three absolutely outstanding candidates,” Johnson said. “Any of these gentlemen could walk right into the job and do the duties.”
All three Republican candidates have more than 30 years experience in law enforcement, Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Leetonia Police Chief John Soldano, announced Saturday that he would again seek the Democratic nomination. Soldano ran as the Democratic opposition to Smith in 2004. He also led an unsuccessful bid for his party’s endorsement in 2000.
“I’m hoping the third time’s a charm,” Soldano said.
Soldano has held his current position for 10 years. He began his career as a peace officer in Wellsville in 1983, he said.
The sheriff has not been directly involved with the Republican party’s endorsement process but is being apprised of the developments and “has been very supportive of the process,” said Johnson.
Smith’s term expires at the end of 2008.
Johnson did not disclose details about plans for the campaign, though he did say maintaining the seat will be a priority for the party. Republican candidates have held the sheriffs seat in Columbiana County for more than 60 years, Johnson said.