EDITORIAL: We endorse Buncich, Bursac for sheriff

2014-04-27T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: We endorse Buncich, Bursac for sheriff nwitimes.com
April 27, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Both Democrats and Republicans have decisions to make in the Lake County sheriff's race. Each party's nominee will be chosen May 6.

The Democrats must choose between incumbent John Buncich, Oscar Martinez and Richard Ligon.

Martinez is a high-profile sheriff's department officer, achieving fame for drug interdiction efforts that yielded big results on the county's highways.

Buncich is not only the current sheriff, but also served two terms before term limits made him sit out for Roy Dominguez to take over before Buncich could run again.

Ligon has solid command experience from his days as a colonel in the military, when he oversaw 1,700 soldiers and leaders. He also served time on the roughest streets in Chicago as a postal inspector.

Buncich rose up through the ranks and knows the  department well. He has made major strides toward improving conditions at the Lake County Jail to meet federal standards.

Ligon is a strong candidate, but his choice of Joseph Kumstar as a campaign adviser is a major error. Kumstar was convicted of selling machine guns and parts illegally.

What we found disturbing during our interview with the three candidates — you can see this on the video — is how Buncich sandbagged Martinez by accusing him of a specific lapse in judgment related to his work performance. That sounded like politics, which should be kept out of the department. Handle personnel matters properly, not on the campaign trail.

While we're uncomfortable with Buncich's treatment of Martinez, we still believe  Buncich is the strongest candidate in the race.

We endorse Buncich for the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican ballot, Dan Bursac faces John Ramos Jr. Bursac should be a familiar name; he's run for sheriff in the past and has been in a number of divisions. Ramos is training coordinator for the East Chicago Police Department.

Bursac wants to use "wolf packing" to hit gangs hard. That term refers to inundating a community's high-crime areas with police officers. Ramos said he would saturate south Lake County.

Bursac and Ramos both promised top-notch training for the department. Bursac said he would like the police academy to function like a small university for continuing education for the region's police officers.

Bursac said he would like to put his mark on the department he knows so well. His ideas for doing so sound good, too.

We endorse Bursac for the Republican nomination for Lake County sheriff.

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