Tuesday, May 21, 2002

GOP primary pits two ex-Democrats

Edmondson, Deters vie for county attorney

By Gina Holt
Enquirer contributor

        Two Republicans who are both former Democrats will compete in the May 28 primary for the GOP nomination for Kenton county attorney.

        Eric Deters, 38, of Independence is challenging in cumbent Garry Edmondson, 55, of Fort Wright. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Kate Malloy in November.

        The Kenton county attorney is responsible for prosecuting all misdemeanors and providing legal counsel for the fiscal court. The salary is about $85,000 a year.

        Mr. Edmondson has worked as a lawyer since graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law 30 years ago. His undergraduate degree, in political science, is also from UK. Right out of school, he prac ticed with Spalding, Bubenzer and Grause, and opened his own law firm in Covington in 1975.

        Mr. Edmondson has served two four-year terms as the Kenton county attorney. He ran previously as a Democrat but changed parties about a year ago.

        “For many years I've been known as a conservative,” he said. “People have said I'm a closet Republican. I've become most disenchanted with the Democratic party and what it stands for.”

        Mr. Edmondson pledged during his first campaign to run for only two terms and Mr. Deters has accused him of breaking a written promise to do so.

        “I didn't sign anything,” Mr. Edmondson said. “I don't recall that I ever signed any pledge, in fact, I'm certain that I didn't. I did say it, but scores of people urged me to run again.”

        He said people should vote for him for three reasons: experience, effectiveness and integrity.

        “I absolutely have the most experience,” Mr. Edmondson said. He has served as a prosecutor and a public defender.

        “We have increased child support collection from $7 million to $14 million per year,” he said.

        Mr. Edmondson said that under his leadership, the county attorney's office began a bad check program, which has collected more than $1 million for local merchants. A crime victim's advocate program was also be gun during his tenure.

        Mr. Edmondson has served as a member of the Northern Kentucky Mental Health Association, the Optimist Club, Fort Mitchell Lions Club and Covington Lions Club. He has been a district chairman for the Boy Scouts of America, an assistant scoutmaster and a grade-school basketball coach at St. Agnes Church in Fort Wright.

        Mr. Edmondson and his

        wife, Joyce, have four children, Kelly Middendorf, 29; Alex, 27; Elizabeth, 22; and Amanda, 21.

        Mr. Deters graduated from Thomas More College in 1983 with a degree in history and business. He received his law degree from Northern Kentucky University's Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1986.

        He has worked as a lawyer for 15 years. He spent 12 years working for Deters, Benzinger and LaVelle in Crestview Hills. Mr. Deters' father, Charlie Deters, is the Deters in that firm. Eric started his own firm, Eric Deters and Associates, a few years ago.

        Mr. Deters has also switched parties. He has been a Republican, a Democrat and now is a Republican again. He chaired the Kenton County Republican Party from 1988 to 1992. The GOP tried to oust him in 1991, only a year before he announced his commitment to the Democrats.

        Mr. Deters has managed campaigns for Republican candidates including former Kenton County Judge-executive Clyde Middleton, gubernatorial candidate Jim Bunning and state Sen. Dick Roeding of Lakeside Park.

        Mr. Deters said he would have run for county attorney in 1998 but decided to let Mr. Edmondson fulfill his two-year term pledge.

        “He signed a term-limit pledge and he's not honoring it,” Mr. Deters said.

        “... I believe I'm a better attorney. I have practiced law in every facet possible. My focus and my practice is litigation. I feel like we need a lawyer with good litigation experience.”

        Mr. Deters is a member of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Northern Kentucky Right to Life, Kentucky Farm Bureau and Family First.

        He is a past president of the Northern Kentucky Goodwill Board, a past member of Northern Kentucky Community Center Board, Erlanger Rotary, Independence Business Association and National Rifle Association.

        He coaches several sports teams.

        He and his wife, Mary, are raising six children: Cory, Cole and Cameron Bradley, and Erica, Charlie Ann and Parker Deters.


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