Harford Sheriff, Courthouse Races

October 13, 1994

The Harford County sheriff's office is under a dark cloud that must be dispelled. Robert Comes, the incumbent sheriff, has shown himself incapable of doing so, resorting to cover-ups and delegating public communications to a paid out-of-state adviser amid continuing management problems.

Joseph Meadows, the Republican challenger, offers a bright future for the office and the county. His eight years experience as an assistant state's attorney provides him with a keen legal overview of the office's growing responsibilities and with the managerial skills to correct its rudderless course.

There is enough discontent with Mr. Comes, among current and past members of his office as well as the general public, to support the view that any competent challenger should replace him.

Mr. Meadows, with his direct involvement in law enforcement and yet detachment from the historic politics of the sheriff's agency, is more than that. He affords the best opportunity in many years for Harford County to achieve professional management of the office. His election would avoid the internal upheaval and political maneuvering that have disrupted the agency for a decade.

Mr. Meadows hasn't carried a gun and walked a beat, but he's been to more crime scenes as a prosecutor over the past four years than the incumbent sheriff. He's seen the deficiencies in the sheriff's office that hamper successful criminal prosecutions, and is acutely aware of procedure and legal process that must be a fundamental part of the sheriff's operations.

There is a complication in this race. Voters could vote for ballot Question A, which would transfer the law enforcement function from the sheriff's office to a separate county police force under an appointed chief. But Mr. Meadows would be eminently qualified to oversee the remaining sheriff functions, including responsibility for the county jail where serious administrative problems have emerged over recent years and which has been the scene of several substantial liability lawsuits against the county. For Harford sheriff, Joseph Meadows merits the strongest support of voters.

For Clerk of the Court, who administers court records, collects taxes and oversees licenses, we support two-term Democratic incumbent Charles G. Hiob III. In the race for Register of Wills, which processes estates and collects inheritance taxes, our endorsement goes to Democrat Harry L. Hopkins, the incumbent for eight years.

8, Tomorrow: Baltimore County Council (1,2)

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