Resolve Issue Over Sheriff

Ruling whether Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas is qualified to hold the job should be viewed by Ohio Supreme Court justices as a matter of urgency. To the extent they can while ensuring both sides in the dispute are treated fairly, justices should cut through the so-called technicalities of the case and get to the heart of the matter with dispatch.

Lucas won the election last November to become sheriff, garnering 16,859 votes. His opponent, Dick Flanagan, received 14,209 votes.

Then Flanagan said he had become aware of information indicating Lucas does not meet statutory requirements for the sheriff’s position. Specifically, Lucas’ experience as a law enforcement officer is in question. Flanagan has said he was not aware of the question prior to the election.

In an attempt to have Lucas declared unqualified – which apparently would leave him as sheriff – Flanagan in February filed a quo warranto action with the state’s highest court. In essence, the action seeks a ruling by the court that Lucas is not qualified to be sheriff.

As such things go, the case seems to have proceeded rapidly. After Flanagan’s initial action, Lucas filed a formal response in late February.

High court justices must exercise extreme caution in deciding the case, obviously. And they have a substantial workload, with many other important issues demanding their time.

Still, Lucas has been sheriff for about four and one-half months, with a cloud hanging over his head much of that time. The sooner the Supreme Court can resolve the matter, the better for residents of Belmont County.