Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Butler County Sheriff: Jones likely successor to Gabbard

Early returns give him 62 percent in race against Springboro officer

By Jennifer Edwards
Enquirer staff writer

HAMILTON - A law enforcement veteran who has served as the Butler County sheriff's second-in-command for 11 years took a strong early lead in the sheriff's race Tuesday.

With 30 percent of the 289 precincts reporting, Butler County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Richard K. Jones led with 62 percent of the vote over opponent Springboro police officer Dale S. Richter, who had 38 percent of the vote.

The winner will replace Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard, who will retire at year's end after heading the department since 1993.

Jones' name and face were familiar in the county before the campaign began; Richter was virtually unknown.

"I have had a lot of good support. I couldn't do it without all the support I had from the employees, the party and all the good people who supported me," Jones, 51, said Tuesday night. "And I'd like to also say that my campaign was all positive. Not one negative ad; none whatsoever.

"I can get up in the morning and smell fresh. I don't smell like I've been throwing slime on people. You can still win a race without running negative," Jones said.

Richter, 35, ran on a platform that deputies and taxpayers needed a sheriff who understands what deputies face daily, noting he has something Jones doesn't: experience as a road officer. Richter has 14 years experience in law enforcement.

But Jones said Richter's background hadn't prepared him for the responsibilities of the sheriff's job. By comparison, Jones has been second-in-command of the eighth-largest sheriff's office in Ohio and manages a $25 million budget and oversees 340 employees.

Overall, Jones has 28 years experience in corrections and law enforcement.

Jones also had the advantage of being a Republican in a Republican-dominated county. He amassed a $137,000 war chest, the largest of any Butler County candidate on the Nov. 2 slate.

That includes $10,000 from the county Republican Party and numerous small contributions from businesses, citizens and current sheriff's employees.

In contrast, Richter, a Republican who turned Democrat, had to bankroll his own campaign. A successful cattle farmer, he loaned $39,500 to his election effort and reported just one $25 contribution from a citizen on his last expense report.


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