Sheriff strategy shows courage

Whatever one thinks of the appointment made by the Jefferson County Commission to fill the position of sheriff, we can find no fault with how the commissioners went about making their selection.

While there has been harping in some quarters about why neither this nor that applicant was selected, we think the commission acted courageously in not selecting either of the candidates bested by then-sheriff Robert Shirley in last spring’s Democratic primary and in November’s general election. In each instance, the people spoke and Shirley won the popular vote — whether he fully deserved it is another matter entirely; but much of the electorate was already familiar with the charges facing him last year when he defeated his Democratic rival Everett “Ed” Boober, and Shirley had already been indicted when he went up against Republican Earl Ballenger later that year.

To have appointed Boober, who Shirley beat handily in the 2012 primary, would have incited calls of unfairness to Ballenger. Likewise, if the onetime Republican had received the commission’s nod, his having newly converted to the Democratic Party could have proven a sore point, an opinion by the attorney general on the matter notwithstanding.

The commissioners were also fair in how they went about selecting the three candidates to interview, that being by choosing the top three vote-getters among them from a list of the 16 candidates who applied for the job.

The state Code grants commissioners a good degree of latitude on filling a vacant position, and it’s our opinion they handled the matter well. Let’s move on.

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