MARIETTA - Candidates for Washington County Sheriff traded barbs Thursday in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
Asked if handling personal finances reflects on someone's ability to handle the sheriff department's finances, incumbent Sheriff Larry Mincks said challenger Chris Forshey has filed for two bankruptcies in the past seven years, Mincks said.
"I really think that does raise a strong question whether he is able to run an organization the size of the sheriff's department," said Mincks.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Chris Forshey, an independent candidate for Washington County sheriff, left, and incumbent Sheriff Larry Mincks trade criticisms during Thursday’s debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Moderator was Dr. Suzanne Walker, right, representing the league.
Mincks also said Forshey used loopholes to safeguard money from creditors during those bankruptcies.
"He had negotiated a $58,000 buyout and placed in a retirement fund where it could not be reached by creditors," said Forshey.
Forshey accused the sheriff's department of lax hiring practices that have led to hiring employees with criminal histories. Without naming names, Forshey said employees hired under Mincks' tenure have failed a polygraph test, been found to have committed crimes and had been accused of domestic violence.
"This department does little because of personal biases Mr. Mincks has against polygraph tests. They may not be admissible in court, but they are still used in the law enforcement community, including in a federal level," Forshey said. "It is very obvious that the hiring process at the sheriff's office needs to be revamped."
Mincks and Forshey also disagreed on how much time and manpower the department should delegate to drug enforcement and investigations.
Forshey said the department gives too little attention to other crimes in the county. Mincks said there have been no unsolved murders while he has been sheriff and also drew a link between crime and drug usage.
Thursday's debate was the league's third and final and included the four candidates for Washington County Commission.
For the term beginning Jan. 2, commission candidates were asked how they would distribute revenue from the 1 percent sales tax. Democrat Peg Littler was hesitant to give an amount until she looked at the budget, but said roads were a priority.
Republican David White said the tax should be spent as originally intended, for bridges and roads.
Democrat Cora Marshall and Republican Ron Feathers, candidates for the term beginning Jan. 3, were asked how they would protect infrastructure and the environment in light of the oil and gas boom. Marshall said she plans on staying well-informed.
"I have been traveling throughout the county attending meetings. I've also supported a fracking advisory committee. Their mission is to provide us useful information," said Marshall.
Feathers accused Marshall of wanting to put undue tax burdens on the industry.
"I disagree with the supposition that business is evil. The development of energy from shale has been done safely for decades," said Feathers.
Marshall countered that while she favors a severance tax for the larger oil and gas companies, she does not support one for small, local companies or individual land owners.