XENIA — The candidates for Greene County prosecutor faced off at a forum Tuesday, each trying to convince voters why they are the best person in the race.
Republicans Alice DeWine and David Hayes are on the primary ballot to replace Stephen Haller, who announced he would not seek re-election after originally announcing he would run again. There are no Democrats on the ballot so the winner of the primary will become the new prosecutor after the November general election.
The candidates spoke in alphabetical order.
DeWine spent 10 years as an assistant prosecutor under Haller before joining Clark County’s prosecutor.
“I served in the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office and I know it like the back of my hand,” she said. “For some candidates that experience of their own would be the entire basis of their candidacy. But for me it goes much deeper. I left out of frustration. I left because that office has not kept up with the changing times. And that’s why I’m running. Not only do I understand the office. I understand the challenges we face and how we need to respond. I have a vision for the office. I am the only person in this race who has planned for the future of the office.”
DeWine said she is the only candidate with criminal, civil, and juvenile experience and is the only one who has handled children’s services, and adult protective services cases.
“I am the candidate with the greatest breadth of knowledge in the office,” she said. “I’ve been an assistant prosecutor for 11 years. I’ve handled thousands of cases and I’ve successfully prosecuted court and jury trials by myself and with co-counsel.”
During her allotted three minutes, she unofficially waged a war on drugs and those dealing them.
“Let me be unequivocal,” she said. “As your prosecutor I will be the death of the scum that traffic in this community. The word will get out, Greene County is not where you want to get caught dealing drugs. My advice on this, don’t test me on this. You’ll be sorry.”
She also stressed educating and preparing children to combat drug traffickers and peers who use drugs.
“This role is not the job of prosecutor,” she said. “But as prosecutor, I think it’s a moral imperative and I will dedicate energy to address this issue.”
DeWine also promised to help those addicted to drugs.
“As your prosecutor, I will lead by reaching out to resources in the community,” she said. “We need to create and sustain paths to recovery. I have the experience and I will lead with education, enforcement, and empathy.”
Hayes said he has been working at the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office since 2004 and is currently the chief trial counsel.
Prior to attending law school, Hayes enlisted in the Air Force Reserve when he was 18 and became a recruiter for the reserve in Youngstown.
“I also began working at the Olive Garden where I met the most important person in my life … my wife Amanda,” Hayes said. “I worked at the Olive Garden for seven years where I waited tables and tended bar to put myself through undergrad and law school. I also started a family.”
He cited his experience in the Air Force as a big reason he thinks he is the best candidate for prosecutor.
“I achieved success in the military,” Hayes said. “I rose to the rank of senior master sergeant. Served as the first sergeant for the 445th maintenance squadron. I ended my career as an attorney with the JAG corps.”
Hayes did admit that military service alone does not qualify him to be prosecutor.
“This is a leadership position,” he said. “I have managed young men and young women in the Air Force. I am the only candidate with any leadership or management experience in this race. I managed our office internship program and I’m the liaison for the veterans treatment court. I have handled over 2,007 cases, and tried over 60 trials.”
He disagreed that the prosecutor’s office is old-fashioned.
“We have a robust victim advocate program,” Hayes said. “We are the envy of surrounding counties when it comes to criminal law enforcement and I will continue that good work that Steve Haller has done.”
Hayes also cited the numerous endorsements he has received.
“Most importantly, through all my experiences I have earned the respect of those I have worked for and those that I have worked with,” Hayes said. “Both my opponent and I worked in the same office. But I am the only one endorsed by Sheriff (Gene) Fischer, our current prosecutor, Stephen Haller, the Beavercreek FOP, the Fairborn FOP, and retired Juvenile Court Judge Robert Hutchison.”