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Line forming for county’s at-large seats

Buskirk

Two decisions could make for another large Republican field seeking the three County Council at-large nominations:

•Two-term incumbent Paul Moss is running for state representative, creating an open seat.

•Controversial actions by the council in November raised the ire of a number of county employees and other Republicans and may spur candidacies. Council members – with no forewarning – surprisingly cut the pay of judges and magistrates, and gave county sheriff’s officers the equivalent of a 3 percent pay cut. The council later rescinded the action, but resentment continues – particularly against Roy Buskirk, another incumbent whose seat is up. (The third is Robert Armstrong.)

Former City Councilwoman Liz Brown’s name has emerged as a possible candidate – but that discussion seems to be going on more in Democratic circles than Republican ones. Expect Brown to sit out this election.

County Council at large is a popular seat for local Republicans. Seven ran in 2008, including Jim Howard, who recently lost his job as city purchasing director in the Tom Henry administration. The 2004 GOP primary drew nine candidates, and 13 ran in 2000.

Filing begins Wednesday; the last day to file is Feb. 10.

New assignment

Buskirk drew criticism because the council’s October vote increasing the retirement fund contributions of sheriff’s department employees blindsided the department. Each council member is a liaison with several county departments, and Buskirk was assigned to the sheriff’s department. A number of county officials believe Buskirk should at least have given Sheriff Ken Fries – who was at the council meeting before the retirement fund vote – a heads-up.

When the council made its liaison assignments last week, it was second-year Councilman Tom Harris – not Buskirk – who was assigned to the sheriff’s department.

Plumadore’s attorneys

Unlike many places across the nation, indigent defendants charged with heinous crimes in Allen County are likely to be assigned public defenders who have reputations as good to excellent attorneys. Michael Plumadore, accused in the heinous Christmastime killing of Aliahna Lemmon – is getting two, Anthony Churchward and Mark Thoma.

Some local citizens seeking justice for Aliahna might be incensed that public tax dollars will foot the bill for not one but two attorneys for Plumadore, good ones at that. But Chief Public Defender Randall Hammond’s decision may well save county taxpayers in the long run.

If Plumadore is convicted of murder, his case will go up on appeal. Having two good attorneys takes away the argument of ineffective counsel and, indeed, greatly reduces the likelihood of any errors occurring in the trial that would be grounds for a new trial.

The stakes will be even higher if Prosecutor Karen Richards seeks the death penalty, all the more reason to have good attorneys. If indeed Plumadore is convicted, justice is best served if he unquestionably has good legal representation.

Tracy Warner, editorial page editor, has worked at The Journal Gazette since 1981. He can be reached at 461-8113 or by email, twarner@jg.net.

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