WTVM Editorial 5/12/17: New sheriff, new focus

(WTVM) - Recently our morning news anchors Cheryl Renee and Chuck Leonard interviewed John Darr and Donna Tompkins in separate profiles of the former sheriff and current sheriff of Muscogee County.

The profiles were fascinating, giving us new insights into the personalities and decisions of these law enforcement leaders, and the consequences of a local election.

All sheriffs must enforce the law.

New sheriff Donna Tompkins is also putting a priority on fiscal responsibility and has made some moves to cut expenses for her agency.

Sheriff Tompkins is smart to focus on the taxpayer's money and so far it appears she is doing a good job of managing it.

Former sheriff Darr had famously sued the city-county consolidated government, saying he didn't have enough money to run his department. When he was defeated by Tompkins, a routine audit of the out-going sheriff's office found Darr was 13 million dollars over budget.

In Cheryl's interview with Darr, he told her he now regrets launching that expensive, unsuccessful lawsuit and if he could do it over again, he would never have sued.

Besides beating Darr at the ballot box, Sheriff Tompkins also beat the odds of her profession: she is one of only a few female sheriffs around the country and one of only two in the state of Georgia.

Of 3,100 sheriffs in the United States, only 42 are women, according to the National Sheriffs' Association.

Ironically, Tompkins sued Darr years ago for gender discrimination, back when she was a deputy sheriff. Tompkins felt she'd been passed over for promotions because she was a woman and a judge agreed.

It's obvious that Tompkins and Darr are two very different people with two very different ways of running the sheriff's office.

Although the race for sheriff was not the biggest race on the ballot last November, it presented a clear choice for voters and was an important local election.

Tompkins is finally getting her chance to show what she can do to make her mark on better management of the sheriffs' office and it appears to us that Sheriff Tompkins is off to a very good start.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved