By Brian Lazenby Staff Writer
Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox said several assistant prosecutors running for judgeships should not have a dramatic impact on the ability of his office to handle its caseload.
Mr. Cox's office policy typically requires assistant prosecutors campaigning for a judgeship to take a leave of absence, but the policy is evolving on a case-by-case basis, he said. "Whatever decisions have to be made, the overriding goal is to prevent political activity from interfering with the function of this office," Mr. Cox said.
Executive Assistant District Attorney Barry Steelman and Assistant District Attorney Rodney Strong have picked up qualifying papers to run for Division I Criminal Court judge. Mr. Steelman will run as a Republican, and Mr. Strong will run as a Democrat in the August general election. The seat is held by Judge Doug Meyer, who has announced he will not seek re-election.
Assistant District Attorney Gerald Webb has picked up papers to run against Municipal Court Judge Sherry Paty. The seat is nonpartisan, and the election is in May.
Mr. Cox said it may not be necessary for Mr. Steelman and Mr. Strong to take a leave of absence because they are not running against a sitting judge.
Mr. Strong said he is prepared to leave his position to campaign, but he doesn't foresee the race causing any tension that would disrupt the ability of him and Mr. Steelman to work together.
"Barry and I are friends, and we will continue to be friends," Mr. Strong said. "I'm running for the position. I'm not running against anybody."
Mr. Steelman said he will abide by whatever decision Mr. Cox makes, but he does not expect their campaigns to cause any problems.
"We, as prosecutors, are making decisions daily that have a tremendous impact on the lives of people," he said. "Therefore, the work we do as prosecutors is too important to allow personal agendas and political aspirations to interfere in any way."
Mr. Cox said he does not expect any friction in the office with two employees vying for the same seat, but it is an issue he has considered.
"My main concern is not to let any political campaign by anyone affect the daily operation of this office," he said.
Mr. Webb did not return calls last week seeking comment.
Mr. Cox said he will make a final determination after the Feb. 16 filing deadline when he has a better idea of who is running for office.
"Now is not the time to make the decision," he said. "At this point, I don't know who is doing what."
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