Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti will be the county’s law enforcement leader for another four years.
Unofficial election results show Stammitti, a Democrat, defeating his Republican challenger, A.J. Torres, 80,226 to 42,048, or 66 percent to 34 percent.
Stammitti has been sheriff for nearly 12 years.
Stammitti was hired at the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office in 1986 and served as a lieutenant in charge of the detective bureau. He was promoted to captain in 1988 and elected as Lorain County sheriff in 2000 and re-elected in November 2004 and 2008.
He also served as an administrative/personnel officer, law enforcement director and jail administrator.
Torres is a retired trooper from the Ohio Highway Patrol, where he worked for 26 years. He was chosen trooper of the year three times and received several other awards for his work, including the O.W. Merrill Award, the highest award given by the state for heroism after he extricated a woman from a burning car.
Stammitti said Torres lacked management experience, something that he thought voters likely noticed before going to the polls, and experience in operating a budget and a jail, both of which are needed at the Sheriff’s Office.
“That’s one of those things you can’t just come in and learn,” Stammitti said.
Stammitti is tasked with handling a dwindling budget next year, an issue both candidates addressed prior to the election.
Stammitti already has made numerous adjustments, laying off a dozen full-time deputies in 2008 after more than $1 million was cut from the budget. Since then, he’s restored some deputies through grants and consolidation of his dispatchers into the county’s 911 Call Center. The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office also moved its female inmates to the shuttered Elyria City Jail, a move that reduced manpower at no additional cost, said Stammitti when the move was made.
During his next four years, Stammitti hopes to stabilize the law enforcement division with enough officers to meet the increasing demand for services, safety of officers and response time to calls. He also hopes to replace several aging vehicles that are in need of replacement.
Stammitti said he’s been in contact with the Lorain County commissioners and is waiting for a 2013 budget for the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Torres did not return a call for comment by press time Tuesday night.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.