New Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez has a short window of time to prove his mettle before he faces voters in the 2018 general election.
He took one step in the right direction Thursday, firing a Lake County Jail warden who didn't appear to meet jail administrator guidelines set by the federal government.
Martinez confirmed Thursday his jail administrator, Ed Davies, had been fired because Davies failed to meet the U.S. Department of Justice's minimum requirements for the position.
In fact, Martinez said Davies' status had been holding the jail back in its quest to comply with a long-running probe and settlement agreement — pertaining to jail conditions — with the federal government.
Among the minimum requirements for a jail administrator under federal guidelines are a bachelor's degree in criminal justices or closely related field, five years experience in supervising a large correctional facility or an equivalent combination of education, and experience and knowledge of modern correctional standards.
Davies, a patronage hire under former Sheriff John Buncich, carried more negative baggage than a reported lack of federal qualifications.
Davies pleaded guilty in 1999 to misdemeanor theft of a mink coat sheriff's investigators seized in a drug raid two years earlier.
A person with this record never had any place in the ranks of law enforcement administration.
Martinez announced his department will conduct a nationwide search to find a qualified replacement for Davies.
That's a positive pledge taxpayers should embrace.
Martinez replaced Buncich recently after the former sheriff was ousted from office by a felony bribery conviction.
A caucus of Democratic precinct committee members chose Martinez to fulfill the remainder of Buncich's term.
Actions like dismissing Davies provide Martinez with positive references when he faces voters in the general election next year.