Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sutherland vs. Jones

County commissioner Peter Lawson Jones and his challenger, Debbie Sutherland, are debating tonight in Rocky River. Countywide races are usually snoozers, with the Republicans serving up sacrificial lambs and Democrats coasting to victory, but not this time. Sutherland is the savviest Republican candidate for a county job in years, and she's got a lot of issues to run on.

Take a look at this sharp commercial that'll run soon on local TV.

No surprise she's running against corruption and cronyism, considering the FBI's July raid of county offices and this year's Plain Dealer exposés about patronage. Republicans would argue that electing Sutherland is the best way to clean house at the county -- while Democrats would argue her message is unfair to Jones, a clean politician who's not a subject of the investigation and not doing the crony-hiring.

Sutherland also called a press conference for this evening. The press release read:

"County residents deserve full-time leadership," said Sutherland, referring to Lawson Jones' repeated absences from the county building during business hours. "We had 175 federal agents raid the county building and homes of county officials and my opponent is still absent from doing his job as the President of the Board of County Commissioners."

Jones admitted that he works out of his private law office on public matters. "Public business should be conducted in the county building," Mayor Sutherland said. "Not behind the closed doors of a private law firm, especially during the largest public corruption investigation that our county has seen."

Jones' office hours at his law firm also got used against him in the Plain Dealer's endorsement of Sutherland. The PD suggests he's lazy, while Sutherland casts him as secretive and not doing his job. I don't buy it. Whenever I've been over to Jones' law office to interview him, and phone calls interrupt, they're almost always about county business. I get the impression he works long hours as a commissioner.

Jones and Sutherland also debated at the Euclid Public Library two weeks ago, but the only account I've found so far is this extremely pro-Jones web post.

Update, Wed. morning: Channel 3 has an article and video about the debate up on its website. The Plain Dealer ran this brief article.

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