Editorial | For the Republicans: Allen Jones

Editorial | For the Republicans: Allen Jones

Two Republicans are vying for their party's nomination to succeed longtime Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh.

Come December, there's going to be a new sheriff in the county as Walsh, who took office in 2002, decides to call it a career.

Vying to succeed him are Chief Deputy Allen Jones and Greg Worrell of Thomasboro, a U.S. Air Force retiree with a background in law enforcement.

Voters are fortunate to have a truly stellar candidate like Chief Deputy Jones to take Walsh's place. If succession was not determined by election (just why are voters electing law officers?), Jones is exactly the kind of person that a search committee would be trying to hire.

(No Democrat filed to run for sheriff. But the party has the option of slating a candidate after the March 20 primary election.)

Jones is a 28-year veteran of the sheriff's office, working his way up the ladder over that period. There hasn't been a job there — either on the jail or law enforcement side — that he hasn't done.

Given his steady rise up the ranks, Jones obviously has excelled every step of the way. It will be no surprise if he proves to be an outstanding sheriff.

The sheriff's office has its problems, mostly stemming from financial issues that plague all of county government.

It would seem to be only a matter of time before the inadequate downtown Urbana jail facility is closed and that the current satellite facility in southeast Urbana is expanded to meet requirements to house different kinds of inmates (women, men, the mentally ill) in separate locations.

There is a credible argument that the office, particularly on the patrol side, is operating at a disadvantage because of a manpower shortage. Maintenance of existing equipment and an aging computer system pose problems that will require spending to keep up to snuff.

In other words, the office can be expected to operate in the short-term future as it has in the past — under constant pressure to do much work on minimal resources.

Under those circumstances, who's best prepared to make it all go as smoothly as can be reasonably expected? In our view, it's the current chief deputy. For that reason, Jones is endorsed for the GOP's nomination for county sheriff.