This year, there is a surprising amount of choice in the Hamilton County offices. In the past, a lot of the seats have been uncontested, typically held by powerful Republican incumbents. This year is different. In addition to offering a different perspective than the extremist Republican status quo, each of these candidates offers credibility and new ideas.
For prosecuting attorney, we endorse Janaya Trotter, the Democrat, against her Republican opponent, Joseph Deters. As the incumbent, Deters is a powerhouse in Hamilton County. His “tough on crime” persona lets him tout statistics like how nearly a quarter of Ohio’s death row inmates are from Hamilton County even though only 9 percent of the state’s murders happen here. Trotter promises a more sensible approach. In March, she told CityBeat she would use her powers to lower overcrowding in prisons: “The prosecutor has the ability to recommend some creative solutions to cut down on recidivism. The judges listen to what the prosecutors recommend.”
For clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, we endorse Pam Thomas, the Democrat, against her Republican opponent, Tracy Winkler. While Winkler, the incumbent, is more interested in saving taxpayers money, Thomas introduces another important factor to the clerk’s office: transparency. She believes every citizen that enters the clerk’s office should be treated as a “customer” — an approach that could make the office more open and trustworthy to taxpayers.
For Hamilton County sheriff, we endorse Jim Neil, the Democrat, against his Republican opponent, Sean Donovan. Once again, the Republican candidate doesn’t bring many new ideas to the table. He says safety and reducing violent crime are his top priorities, but that’s obvious for anyone applying for sheriff. Neil at least brings new ideas by advocating for a full, independent audit of the Sheriff’s Office. If police agencies around the country need anything right now, it’s more transparency. An audit could provide that.
For Hamilton County recorder, we endorse Wayne Coates, the Democrat, against his Republican opponent, Wayne Lippert. As the incumbent, Coates has pushed his fresh ideas through the recorder’s office. This year, he began an initiative to protect the privacy of individuals by redacting imaged documents. He has also continually moved the office toward putting more and more of its documents online. With those two successes, we see no reason to vote Coates out of office.
For Hamilton County treasurer, we endorse Jeff Cramerding, the Democrat, against his Republican opponent, Robert Goering. Cramerding is running largely on housing issues, saying the treasurer’s office should help homeowners make up for the aftermath of the housing crisis. For the taxpayer, that approach makes sense. At a time when property tax revenue is facing shortfalls due to falling property values, the most important move a tax collector could do is guarantee property values stay high to ensure tax revenue stays high.
For Hamilton County coroner, we endorse Lakshmi Sammarco, the Democrat, against her Republican opponent, Pete Kambelos. Like most voters, CityBeat was unsure at first why this office requires election. How is chopping up bodies partisan? Shouldn’t we endorse the candidate who looks most like a serial killer? But the coroner’s office is actually a serious position. It’s where a lot of major crime investigations are conducted in the age of precise forensics. As incumbent for seven months after the accidental death of the last coroner, Sammarco has met these duties without complaints from media or critics, and she’s also taken an activist role in speaking out against drug use. We’d like to see what she could do with four years.