When Democrats go to the polls next week, they will all but certainly decide who will be Ingham County’s next prosecutor, given the upper hand they have over the GOP. Fortunately, Democrats have a strong field of four candidates from whom to choose.
We find much merit in all four. They all have sound experience and stellar reputations. They all understand that the prosecutor’s job is as much about finding ways to help non-violent lawbreakers as it is sending people to overcrowded, costly jails and prisons. On the challenging issue of medical marijuana, they seem to understand the need to balance draconian court rulings against the popular will of voters in favor of dispensaries. All four strike us are fair-minded individuals who would serve us well.
But there is a difference among them on one crucial issue, which is how to respond to the legacy of Stuart Dunnings III, their fellow Democrat who was forced to resign after being charged with 15 prostitution-related charges. Three of the four Democrats appear more than willing to embrace the findings of the interim prosecutor, Gretchen Whitmer, that have cleared Dunnings’ hires of any knowledge of his alleged crimes. We and many citizens remain skeptical that so many prosecutorial-minded attorneys could not or would have detected what is alleged to have been longtime behavior.
The exception is Thomas English, who in Todd Heywood’s story in this week’s issue says: “Should they have known? Absolutely. Attorneys are bound as officers of the court. In the dealings of a prosecutor’s office — dealing with informants, dealing with witnesses, dealing with these people — I find it difficult to believe that somebody didn’t know.”
We support English for the Democratic nomination not just because he appears to offer the best hope of the clean sweep we think the Prosecutor’s Office needs. He also offers the most distance from the local Democratic power structure, some of whom we can’t imagine at least didn’t have suspicions. We may never know who knew what, but common sense tells us that it is time for a prosecutor who can stand alone from the political establishment.
Moreover, English has a strong law enforcement background as a federal prosecutor and then director of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, which followed a military career. He has lived in Williamston since 2004 and recently retired as an administrative law judge here for the Social Security Administration. Of the four candidates, he has the strongest experience when it comes to running an office.
Yes on animal shelter
Ingham County animals deserve better. Our animal shelter is not just beyond cramped, it is unhealthy. As the new director, John Dinon, points out, the inadequate air flow system results in the easy spread of kennel cough. It ought to be torn down and replaced immediately.
Unfortunately, the proposed $9.6 million millage on next week’s ballot is over six years, so the urgently needed fix will take awhile. But we need to make a start. We urge you to vote for the millage, which will also allow for increased staffing.
Some voices have suggested that the new shelter will, at 21,000 square feet, be bigger than needed, but just as Ingham County is growing, so is the pet population. Critics also contend that the animal shelter could find ways to partner with the Capital Area Humane Society, but we doubt it. The humane society is a private organization that can reject animals at will. Moreover, we sense an elitist attitude at the humane society, which passively points out that the animal shelter has not reached out for its help — as opposed to taking a proactive approach to help a public facility that is badly in need.