Another term for Weathersbee Sun endorsements: Anne Arundel County's state's attorney and Sheriff Johnson both merit re-election.

October 09, 1998

PROSECUTING criminals is one of the most important jobs in the courthouse. Citizens want a state's attorney who vigorously and effectively prosecutes people charged with committing felonies, misdemeanors and other infractions of laws and ordinances.

Frank R. Weathersbee, a Democrat, has occupied the position since 1988, when, as the deputy, he was appointed to fill a vacancy. In 1990 and 1994, voters re-elected him.

Richard R. Trunnell, a Republican and former Prince George's assistant state's attorney, is seeking to unseat him.

Mr. Trunnell contends that Mr. Weathersbee's prosecution and conviction record is substandard. It is not a convincing argument.

In a decade as the county's top prosecutor, Mr. Weathersbee has sharpened the focus of the office to reflect changes in the community.

He formed teams of attorneys to concentrate on handgun and juvenile crimes. He created a victim and witness assistance center, helping to keep victims from being overlooked in prosecutions.

Mr. Weathersbee also was pivotal in the development of a drug court that provides treatment for first-time non-violent offenders.

The challenger's recent attempt to politicize a case involving a 13-year-old girl who married the 29-year-old father of her child hasn't worked.

Mr. Weathersbee was as disturbed about that marriage as most people, but realized his prosecution would be compromised without support from the girl or her parents, both of whom approve of the marriage.

Because of his solid performance, we endorse Mr. Weathersbee for another four years.

For sheriff, Mark T. Gillen, a Republican and deputy sheriff in Baltimore, is challenging Democratic incumbent George F. Johnson IV.

Four years ago, Mr. Johnson, a 22-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, assumed control of an office burdened by favoritism and a budget in the red. He has since returned surpluses to the county treasury and instituted

merit-based promotion policies.

He also instituted programs that have saved money, such as taking over the serving of most warrants from the police department. That freed six police officers for other duties.

Mr. Gillen has experience in a sheriff's office, but his qualifications don't equal Mr. Johnson's achievements in office.

We endorse Mr. Johnson for another term.

Pub Date: 10/09/98

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