Old Yeller: The fight between Thomas Hall and Sheriff Jones

Why Is Sheriff Jones Going After Thomas Hall

Sheriff Jones decided to go on 700 WLW and speak disparagingly about Thomas Hall, the current House Representative of the 53rd District. I like Sheriff Jones, I hope he runs and wins a few more terms, but nobody in their right mind could support the way he attacked Thomas Hall on those radio waves to hundreds of thousands of people. Long-time readers here know that I used to be a frequent contributor on WLW, like Jones. Over time, many of my people who used to work there moved away, were fired, or otherwise changed their point of view. We separated like some kind of divorce, and I have not had much of an idea of reconciliation. I have more freedom in media with this site, so I have not returned in several years. But Jones does go on WLW quite a lot, so because I don’t pay much attention to what goes on there these days, I did not hear the original airing where Sheriff Jones disparaged Thomas Hall in many negative ways calling him a 12-year old “goof,” not just once, but many times. Still, I have often heard from many Republicans who want to defend Hall but are scared of retaliation from Jones, and I think that’s a shame. Hall certainly isn’t 12-years old. I said in the video that he was in his early thirties, but actually, he’s in his mid-twenties and is the youngest member of the current Ohio House. However, the young man is an overachiever by all measures, and his age certainly isn’t a hindrance. He has had two terms as a Madison Trustee, and now he’s in his first term as a congressman seeking a second term. 

Sheriff Jones Goes After Thomas Hall over H.B. 99

Another thing I said about Thomas is a couple of times in the video, I referred to him as Thomas More, because for a lot of reasons, I think of the writer of Utopia whenever I think of Thomas Hall. It’s been that way for a while just because of my own reading habits. There are a lot of Thomas’ in English literature; another is the character of Thomas Becket from The Canterbury Tales, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by his friend Henry the II. It’s one of my favorite books, and this story keeps coming to my mind when I think of Thomas Hall and his friend and mentor, Sheriff Jones. Jones had endorsed Thomas and was mentoring him until a few things happened. Apparently, Jones didn’t like Hall’s voting record. The Sheriff had a confirmed case of heartburn over H.B. 99, Hall’s bill in congress, which set definitions for minimal teacher training to carry firearms in public schools. Jones uncharacteristically turned on Thomas Hall and made quite an exhibition about it on WLW right before Thanksgiving in 2021. I hadn’t heard it until I did an endorsement video for Thomas Hall, and he mentioned it. I had heard from several very prominent Republicans, some very close to the Sheriff, that something had gone on really bad. As I said in the video, one of them was not Senator Lang. I never put people in positions where they get caught in crossfires with each other and given the mean streak that many fear in crossing Jones, many don’t want to be a part of it. Yet many more than ten contacted me to let me know what was going on between Hall and Jones, and they weren’t happy about it.

Thomas Hall Responds to Sheriff Jones

I listened to the Jones interview with Willie, included here; then I listened to the response from Thomas Hall the next day. I played them for my wife, who loves Sheriff Jones. We talked about the interviews and thought Thomas Hall did a fantastic job. He certainly won the argument. But Jones came across as petty and even childish. My wife offered that maybe he was hurting about something else, totally unrelated. Perhaps that’s true. Whatever it is, I would suggest a few thoughts regarding the excellent Sheriff. I’ve been sideways with him a few times over things, particularly school things and union business. I still blame him for the Lakota levy passing in 2013. He has a liberal streak in him that I can’t stand, but we have buried the hatchet since then. What he did for Butler County during the Trump years has been great. A person’s body of work can’t be defined by just a few years here and there or by the grumpy old dog that starts biting people who step on a porch to sell Girl Scout cookies. I hope that Jones runs and wins more terms for as long as possible. But perhaps my wife was right about him, that something else is bothering him. 

In my book The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business, I deal with this very issue of an older generation coping with the young people biting their heels. The chapter is called “The Skill of Developed Intuition” on pg. 181. You spend your whole life getting somewhere, making yourself into the person people put on T.V. Getting invited to the White House. Where you can’t go into public without people wanting to get a picture taken with you. And suddenly, here is some 25-year-old whiz kid who suddenly does more in one year than most state reps do in a lifetime. And he’s confident and won’t kiss the ring. Deep down inside, nobody would want to see such a young person broken, but consciously, the older person wants respect because he gave it when he was younger. The aging process isn’t fair. When you can start to see the end of the tunnel, and you know it’s going to be over soon, it is painful to see intelligent young people with their whole lives in front of them getting the attention it took you a lifetime to build. Sometimes, you might be tempted to crush the young competition, show them all they don’t know yet and teach them obedience. But I would caution you not to do that. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is encourage the young people, not tear them down, but build them up. 

Old Yeller

Listening to Thomas talk about the WLW incident, I was amazed he wasn’t more upset. I would be. I carry grudges for a long time, for decades. I would not have been able to say all the nice things that Thomas said about Sheriff Jones when I did my endorsement video with him. I would have been plotting revenge and embarrassment. But obviously, Thomas Hall has had a lot of good mentors in his life, his father being one. But several other politicians for another, including Sheriff Jones. So, there are a lot of lessons here that should be observed. I would hope that Sheriff Jones wouldn’t spend all the years of his excellent branding on petty nonsense that will overshadow all the good things he has done. There are people concerned about just that very thing by many of the calls I received. But Thomas isn’t that way; he understands that politics is a blood sport, and he plays to win without getting hung up on stupid stuff. And in his mind, he already defended himself on WLW the next day. But people were confused as to why the Sheriff went after Thomas, and I would suggest that it shouldn’t ruin the reputation of the Sheriff. I don’t think we are dealing with an Old Yeller situation here. Maybe just an old dog that would love to run around like the youth do but can’t anymore. There is still good to do, and from the point of view of Thomas, he’s willing to do good wherever possible.    

Rich Hoffman

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