When Sheriff Alex Hodge turned down a request by the grassroots group Citizens Against Corruption to participate in a debate we weren’t too surprised. The three-term sheriff who is seeking a fourth term did not want to answer tough questions from an outside source.

The scheduled debate was to be put on by the CAC, a group not affiliated with the Leader-Call, and invitations were sent out to all four sheriff candidates. Without the incumbent, though, there was no need for a debate. The three candidates who had the gumption to agree to debate instead were invited to a roundtable discussion, which was hosted by Leader-Call Publisher Jim Cegielski. The first two parts of which are available at www.leader-call.com, with the final installment being released Wednesday.

Hodge has been throwing a hissy fit at this newspaper for almost one year because the LL-C published a story documenting the thousands of dollars paid for dog and cat food by an elderly couple, one a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army, who Hodge had arrested, strip-searched and paraded in front of TV cameras on a misdemeanor charge. When Justice Court Judge Billie Graham released the couple on their own recognizance, Hodge pounded his fist into a table in the court room and needed to be restrained by an underling.

Soon after, he cut off all communication with the only legitimate news-gathering organization in Jones County.

But when Hodge declined the LL-C invitation sent to all candidates for a special election guide, he must really have some things to hide. Any candidate worth his salt would jump at free advertising — and the answers will be printed as-is for FREE to any candidate who wants to participate. The questions range from the county budget to why a candidate is seeking election. The answers will shed light, in the candidates’ own words, where he or she stands on issues. Answers can be crafted and researched, too, as long as they are received by Friday’s deadline. We would think Hodge would love that kind of control of the narrative in his answers.

But he is hellbent on keeping the residents of this county and the readers of this newspaper in the dark. When you receive our election guide before the primaries, read it throroughly and take note who chose not to participate then ask, “Why?”

Are they hiding something they don’t want you to know? A huge tax increase perhaps? We know Hodge and his ilk are desperate to raise your taxes.

Or is it something else he is afraid of?

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