Essential reporting in volatile times.

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The Gazette-Mail endorses incumbent Democrat Mike Rutherford for sheriff, and Democrat Mark Hunt for the Kanawha County Commission.

In the sheriff’s race, Rutherford faces Republican challenger Sean Crosier. Both have extensive experience in law enforcement. Rutherford served two terms as sheriff prior to his current run. If he’s reelected, it will be for an unprecedented fourth term. Rutherford has been in law enforcement for more than 40 years, most of that with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office.

Crosier was with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 30 years before retiring. He was elected to the sheriff’s office in Monroe County four years ago — a position once occupied by his grandfather. He left the post early because his family wanted to remain in Kanawha County.

In terms of qualifications, it would be hard to find two better candidates for the office. Crosier says he wants to improve morale at the department and form various councils to better interact with the community. Restoration of trust is priority, he said.

While trust in law enforcement is perhaps at its ebb nationally, and some West Virginia policing agencies have contributed in that matter, the sheriff’s office has done well under Rutherford, who has been a steady hand in volatile times. We believe he deserves another term.

As for the County Commission, Hunt faces Republican Lance Wheeler as both vie to fill the seat that will be vacated by longtime commissioner and community fixture Hoppy Shores.

Like so many local races, both candidates would be good for the job. Both are competitive and passionate about public service and bettering Kanawha County, especially as it pertains to the substance-abuse crisis and infrastructure.

In this case, however, there is an experience gap. Hunt is a former legislator of 15 years, and we believe he’d be a better fit on the commission out of the gate. We wouldn’t be surprised if Wheeler, who has tremendous drive, eventually makes a name for himself in local or state public service.