Mar 7, 2024 - News

Your guide to the Franklin County prosecutor primary

Illustration of a gavel with arrows and abstract shapes.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The three Democratic candidates for Franklin County prosecutor want to reform the office to rebuild public trust and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Why it matters: The office handles a variety of important criminal cases and investigations, some involving law enforcement officers.

  • This is perhaps the highest profile local race on the upcoming primary ballot, with the winner likely to prevail in November and become the first Black prosecutor in county history.

State of play: Shayla D. Favor, Anthony Pierson and Natalia S. Harris all filed to replace Democratic incumbent Gary Tyack, with attorney John Rutan running unopposed on the Republican side.

Between the lines: County Democrats issued no endorsement in the race, a choice supported by the local NAACP chapter.

A closer look at the Democratic primary candidates:

Shayla D. Favor serves on Columbus City Council and is vice chair of the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee.

  • Favor is backed by Council president Shannon Hardin, former Mayor Michael B. Coleman and The Collective PAC, a national group that works to elect Black candidates.
  • She's acknowledged her inexperience with prosecuting felony cases, but told the Dispatch she would make a valuable legal adviser to an already talented office.
  • "We can address public safety while also working to reform an unjust and inequitable system," she said at a January candidate's forum hosted by local civic groups.

Anthony Pierson is deputy chief counsel for the county prosecutor's office.

  • He is supported by Tyack and the three county commissioners.
  • He previously worked as an assistant attorney general and chief legal counsel for the state's juvenile prison system.
  • On the campaign trail, he's dismissed a controversy over the location of his primary residence.
  • Pierson said at the January forum his "extensive experience" with the prosecutor's office would help him "transform it" to become more transparent and diverse.

Natalia S. Harris is the city attorney in Delaware and previously served as city prosecutor there and in Cincinnati.

  • She held various roles with the Columbus City Attorney's Office between 2004-2015, including assistant city prosecutor.
  • "It's time for new, experienced, tried and true leadership," she said at the forum, emphasizing a backlog of more than 250 murder cases.

Worthy of your time: A Historic Election: Franklin County may soon have its first Black prosecutor, in Columbus Monthly.

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