Ask Sherri Bevan Walsh where she has been most effective the past 12 years as the Summit County prosecutor, and she will highlight the advances in child-support enforcement. She is right. Under her leadership, the operation has improved substantially, Walsh pointing to the additional $27 million collected. Deadbeats know she means business. Now Walsh is seeking a fourth, four-year term. In this race, she clearly is the stronger candidate.
We recommend the re-election of Sherri Bevan Walsh on Nov. 6.
This editorial page has had its share of arguments with the Democratic incumbent, the subjects including the felony charge brought against Kelley Williams-Bolar and the use of DNA testing. What we have applauded includes her record of innovation. She hustled to bring a domestic violence specialty court to the county. She has fulfilled a commitment to see the office engage more in the community. It hardly goes unnoticed that such steps also serve to promote her image as an elected official. Yet the engagement and her attention to victims needs have added useful dimensions.
Ideally, in a new term, Walsh would direct that sense of purpose to helping address a most pressing problem, the lack of trust for law enforcement authorities in crime-afflicted neighborhoods with mostly black households. The burden of the job falls to Akron officials. Still, the county prosecutor could play a productive role. A prosecutor in a county of this size must be an effective manager. Walsh has improved, and the expectation should be, she will continue to do so. She rightly argues the county must pay its assistant prosecutors higher salaries to attract the necessary talent.
Her Republican opponent is Candace Kim Knox, who ran unsuccessfully for the Akron Municipal Court last year. Knox has been in private practice the past 10 years, mostly as a defense attorney in criminal cases. She argues that Walsh has lost some credibility with police officers because her office too often allows plea bargains on lesser charges. Part of that involves a bow to reality, not to mention a familiar complaint from officers. Yet Walsh would do well to listen. Even she admits her office has room for enhanced communication.
As capable as Knox is, her candidacy doesn’t offer a good reason for removing the incumbent. The hope is, Walsh will deploy her greater experience, knowledge and preparation to make the office better.