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Three Candidates Vie for Lucas County Sheriff

By La Prensa Staff

While the presidential race is commanding most of the attention of voters during the November election, perhaps the mostly hotly contested local race is for Lucas County sheriff. Three candidates—all with law enforcement experience—are looking to replace retiring sheriff John Tharp, who leaves behind some tough issues, among them the opiate epidemic and a new jail.


Earl Mack, who’s running as an independent, has nearly four decades of law enforcement experience. The former liquor control agent also served as deputy director of Ohio Homeland Security. Mack is the only African American candidate among the three sheriff hopefuls.

Mack rose to regional director positions in both Northwest Ohio and the Cincinnati area during his tenure with Ohio Liquor Control. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he served as a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) Executive Board as part of his Ohio Homeland Security duties. Mack was responsible for over 9,000 critical infrastructure sites across Ohio and was the agency’s principal coordinator to protect Ohio from terrorist attack. The U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran retired from government service in 2012 and now runs his own private security firm. 

Mack was inducted into the National Law Enforcement Officer Hall of Fame in 2018 and received a Jefferson Award for Outstanding Community Service last year. The community service award comes largely because of Mack’s current role as Toledo chapter president of the Buffalo Soldiers, a motorcycle club that is largely focused on helping children and other charitable causes across the region.

As far as a new jail, Mack maintains voters have spoken that they want a new county lockup to be located in downtown Toledo. But the independent candidate wants to develop a coalition from the courts, law enforcement, county commissioners, citizen and business representatives to “resolve the issue” of exactly where it would be located and how to pay for it.

Oregon Police Chief Mike Navarre, a Democrat, is likely the most well-known of the trio, mainly because he also served as Toledo’s police chief before moving his career to the suburbs.

Navarre has been a cop for 43 years, 34 with the Toledo Police Department, the last 13 as police chief. He has spent the last nine years as the top cop in Oregon. The worst problems that community has are break-ins and shoplifting at the Oregon Walmart. Navarre has had the time to lend his experience and expertise to some state boards and commissions as a result.

Navarre gained statewide notoriety as a leading proponent of police reform, particularly training, when he served as one of 12 members on Ohio's Task Force on Community and Police Relations appointed by then-governor John Kasich. The group issued a number of recommendations in a 2015 report, which included developing a model policy on the use of deadly force to be adopted by Ohio law enforcement agencies.

Navarre announced his candidacy just before Christmas, but did not seek the Democratic Party endorsement. He beat several challengers in the primary, including Toledo City Council member Gary Johnson—a Latino who was later charged in federal court on bribery charges.

The new sheriff will have to sell the idea of a new jail to the public, after voters soundly rejected a tax increase to fund a new county lock-up in 2018. Navarre has said the new jail will have to be downtown and be built vertically like the current one. But the new lock-up would be funded by bonds, be smaller and more energy efficient, inmates separated from addiction and mental health programs. There would be a need for fewer jobs, likely cut through attrition.

Brett Warner, a Republican, is currently serving with the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office as the drug prevention officer, a post he has held since he joined that department in 2003. Warner also served a decade with the Waterville Township Police Dept. Warner added community affairs duties to his role when he was promoted to a command officer position.

Warner retired as a master sergeant from the Air Force in 2008 after 23 years active duty, National Guard and reserves. The sheriff’s deputy is no stranger to politics, serving the past nine years as a Waterville Township trustee.

Warner started and currently supervises the Youth Explorer Post in law enforcement and provides training opportunities to its members, many of whom later seek to become police officers. He also focuses on youth safety as part of his community service role, presenting programs such as stranger danger, internet safety and awareness and serving as a Safety Town instructor. Warner officially launched his campaign for sheriff last March.

Warner has made clear his thoughts that a new jail is needed. But he told a Burroughs Neighborhood Organization forum last March voters should ask Lucas County Commissioners instead of him where a new jail will be built, “because that’s their call.” He admitted he would have input as sheriff, but stated it would not be his decision.



Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/27/20 13:38:42 -0800.




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