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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Ohio's Only Black Elected Prosecutor Prepares to Take Office in Stark County

Republican Kyle Stone will be the first-ever Black elected prosecutor in Stark County, and the only one currently serving in Ohio.
Kyle Stone
Republican Kyle Stone will be the first-ever Black elected prosecutor in Stark County, and the only one currently serving in Ohio.

In January, Stark County will have its first-ever Black elected prosecutor. Republican Kyle Stone, 37, will also be the only Black county prosecutor in the state of Ohio.

“I am willing to do whatever it takes so that we can make sure that everyone no matter who they are in Stark County, they feel safe,” Stone says.

Stone is the managing attorney at KLS Law LLC in Canton, and says the three pillars of his campaign were unity, transparency and justice.

“I feel that when justice is the focus, it’s easy to be transparent,” Stone says. “And when it’s easy to be transparent, you an unify the community together.”

In November's election, Stone beat 17-year incumbent Democrat John Ferrero 51-48%. Stone credits a “red wave” for Republicans in Stark County that boosted his campaign, and says Ferrero was not as active with court cases as he will be.

“We didn’t see John trying cases,” Stone argues. “We didn’t really get to see him in the community actively advocating for criminal justice reform or advocating for non- violence.”

Stone says he recognizes that law enforcement officers have been under intense scrutiny after George Floyd’s killingin May at the hands of Minneapolis Police.  He also has questions about a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy's fatal shooting of Casey Goodson Jr., 23, earlier this month, which remains under investigation by Columbus Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

“I don’t know all the details of what transpired with that young man’s death in Columbus just recently, but we have to hold people accountable,” Stone says. “It’s not OK that individuals who’ve done nothing wrong should die at the hands of police.”

Stone says his life in Southeast Canton growing up in a single-parent household also gives him a special perspective he'll bring to the prosecutor’s office.

“There are just certain things that as an African American male that I have a perspective and an understanding of that an individual who has not lived my life could not necessarily fully grasp,” Stone says.

Stone will be the second Black county prosecutor ever elected in Ohio. The first was the late Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, who served in Cuyahoga County from 1991-99.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.