West Side News

Herrell aims for Scott's sheriff badge on ballot

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Two longtime employees will vie to be Franklin County's next sheriff on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Republican Mike Herrell, 58, will try to unseat Democrat Zach Scott, 53, who was appointed to the office after the 2011 death of longtime Sheriff Jim Karnes.

Scott, who has lived in the Worthington area for the past five years, will have put in more than 27 years with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department at the end of the year. He and his wife, Tammy, have two children, Zach and Sarah.

"I've been endorsed by the police and by fire," he said. "I've been endorsed by the teachers and numerous other organizations. The most treasured (endorsement) was from (Sheriff) Jim (Karnes)."

Scott said he and Karnes talked about him taking over the position before Karnes died.

"He felt I had the passion, experience and knowledge to carry on his legacy," Scott said.

Herrell, who retired from the sheriff's department last year after 30 years, has lived in the Rickenbacker area for 25 years and is married to Nadine. As a retiree, Herrell has pledged to not take a salary for the job, only benefits.

Being the sheriff has been a longtime aspiration for Herrell.

"It's been a dream of mine for quite some time, back when I was a sergeant with the sheriff's office. It was just one of those dreams you have," he said.

Since taking office, Scott said he's found lots of ways to save money.

"We have cut costs on overtime, which has resulted in $2 million in savings," he said, noting that a few programs have been instituted to make money. "We're charging people when they come to jail if they can afford it. There's a $40 booking fee. Those are new initiatives we're looking for."

Herrell said he'd seek alternate funding sources if elected.

"Another thing I would look at is seeing what grants are available to local jurisdictions to help supplement funding, and the next thing is working with the county commissioners," he said. "They might be from a different party, but we're here for the same goal: to serve the public and do the best job we can."

Staffing also could be examined to save money, Herrell said. For example, people who staff visiting areas at the jail could get lower pay, he said.

As for the amount of staffing, Herrell criticized Scott for hiring a Colorado-based firm to conduct a study.

"As a sheriff, that's why you're sheriff," he said. "You're there to manage the department."

Scott, however, said the study was paid for by the sheriff's department and county commissioners after they could not agree on how many new deputies to hire.

"They thought it was a good idea to have a third party come in," he said, adding he wanted to hire 40 people, but the commissioners approved 30.

Information recently received from the consultants indicates 40 deputies are needed, Scott said.

As for a new term as sheriff, Scott said he intends to continue improvements to the department.

"We've started down the road of just improving accountability and I'm trying to make more of an ownership change," he said. "We're trying to get an ownership mentality in the sheriff's (department), especially on patrol and at the jail so they know the sheriff's office has their back. We want the guys to start taking more ownership and more power that comes from that."

Herrell said he'd like to increase enforcement and punishment when it comes to animal cruelty.

"Another thing, too, is the safety of our children," he said. "I'm very concerned with sexual predators. We've read a lot just this past year of people who have enticed young people. We need to step up our enforcement of these guys or women and get these people off the streets and put them in prison."

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