Re-elect Witt as Fayette sheriff

After 12 years with Kathy Witt as sheriff, Fayette County voters might have been lulled into forgetting what an embarrassment some of the previous occupants of that office have been.

Four sheriffs in a row ran into legal troubles, culminating with the conviction of Sheriff Lones Taulbee on charges of theft and malfeasance in 1989.

Against that checkered past, Witt's record is all the more impressive.

Under her leadership, the office has been run professionally and competently without, as far as we can tell, a whiff of corruption.

She has rightly and wisely left policing to the Urban County Government's Division of Police, while finding innovative, non-duplicative ways to improve public safety.

Witt has a national reputation in information technology and protecting victims of domestic violence.

The Fayette sheriff's office was one of five in Kentucky chosen to pilot the transition from paper to electronic warrants.

A warrant that once could have taken five days to appear on the National Crime Information Center's computerized index can now appear in a matter of minutes.

As a result, Witt says, arrests have doubled.

A review of warrants in Fayette County by judges, prosecutors and Witt's staff also reduced the chances of someone being arrested twice by culling duplicates.

The sheriff's office recently won a small grant to create a 24-hour intake center for victims of domestic violence in Lexington.

Witt's challenger in the Democratic primary, former deputy Sue Neff, served as a bailiff, transported prisoners and assisted victims of domestic violence with safety planning during her 12 years with the sheriff's office.

She impressed us with her compassion, inspiring life story and dedication to public service. Before going into law enforcement, she helped manage a family business.

We question, though, whether she has the experience and qualifications to administer an operation as complex as the sheriff's office, which also includes property-tax collection, courthouse security and transporting extradited fugitives.

Witt's personnel management style will probably continue to rub some people the wrong way.

Her service to the public is hard to fault, however.

The winner of the Democratic primary on May 18 will become sheriff.

Voters would be wise to re-elect Kathy Witt.

The candidate not endorsed in this race may submit a statement of no more than 250 words by noon Tuesday.