Solicitor race to be decided in runoff Tuesday

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By Stan Welch

David Wagner and Rame Campbell, both veterans of the Chrissy Adams administration of the Tenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, will face off in the runoff election on June 28.

Wagner, who was originally hired by former Solicitor George Ducworth, has twenty five years experience, while Campbell, also currently serving as a deputy solicitor has less experience. Wagner, described by Campbell as more of an administrator, touts his record as an active prosecutor who has taken more criminals to court than anyone else in the circuit.

Campbell is the deputy solicitor in Anderson County while Wagner is headquartered in the Oconee office,. Both men and their families call Anderson County home.

Wagner has faced criticism for the Solicitor’s role in recent controversial cases, most of which have occurred in Oconee County. The shooting death of a young man named Zach Hammond by Oconee law enforcement officers has been a source of controversy. Adams’ decision to handle the case through her office instead of transferring it to another jurisdiction has been controversial to say the least.

Campbell has stated that the situation was mishandled and should have been sent to another jurisdiction, distancing himself from Adams in the process.

Wagner agreed, saying that he repeatedly advised Adams to turn the matter over to the attorney general. Campbell said that he and Adams went to the Attorney General and received a less than enthusiastic response to their request to handle the case. “The Solicitor was left with a tough call to make, and once she made it, I supported her. It was not the call I would have made, and in fact, I would support legislative action to require such cases to be transferred to another circuit in the future.”

The two men share several positions on the issues before them. Both agree that communication and cooperation with law enforcement is critical to more cases being tried and won. “There have been too many times when it seems as if the Solicitor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office are not really on the same page,” said Campbell. One remedy he suggests is more aggressive prosecution of property crimes, requiring financial restitution to the victims.

He takes a strong stand concerning repeat offenders, recommending longer sentences. “If they are in a jail cell, they can’t keep repeating their crimes.”

Wagner tends a bit more towards tough prosecution of violent criminals as a priority, such as murderers, sexual predators, drug dealers and those who commit crimes of domestic violence. He has said that property crimes of a lesser nature simply receive a lower priority. “We have limited resources, and those resources continue to shrink, even as our population continues to grow. We have to allocate them so as to achieve the greatest good.”

While both men support the death penalty, Wagner goes so far as to say that it should be restored for certain crimes besides murder. “Child molesters, for example, are virtually impossible to rehabilitate. If you put a child molester in jail for a number of years, you still release a child molester when their time is up.”

Asked what his most important duty as Solicitor would be, Campbell mentioned restoring the public confidence in the solicitor’s office. He acknowledged the current administration’s perceived preference for plea bargains and cutting deals as a part of that problem.

Wagner touted both his administration of the Solicitor’s office as well as his record in court, conceding that administration is a large part of the job, but stressing that he intends to be more active in the courtroom as well.