One problem with electing people to office is that some politicians come to view their victories as tacit public approval for everything they want to do.

That simply isn’t always the case, as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings and the recent gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey have shown. Going back a little further, California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced a recall challenge, fueled in part by a public pushback against the state’s draconian COVID-19 pandemic regulations.

The lessons in these examples? Be wary of overreaching when it comes to policy and power.

Closer to home, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole found out that there are some criminal defendants for which the public has little appetite for plea deals that result in reduced charges and less prison time than offenders may deserve.

O’Toole was in plea negotiations with the defense team of accused murderer and rapist Joshua Gurto, who has been charged in the death of 13-month-old Serenti Jazzlyn Sky Blankship-Sutley in 2017. DNA evidence also came to light implicating Gurto in a previous burglary and rape.

Gurto fled and was on the loose for weeks after the death of the baby, the daughter of his then-girlfriend, before he was apprehended in western Pennsylvania.

The family of that 13-month-old child has been awaiting justice ever since.

There was a chance that both cases against Gurto would be resolved in a plea deal last month, but to her credit, Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court Judge Marianne Sezon rejected the agreement and ordered that Gurto’s trials begin.

Both cases have since been delayed again by a COVID-19 outbreak at the Ashtabula County Jail, where Gurto awaits trial.

Give Gurto his day in court. Let him answer to the charges against him. But a plea deal — particularly in what began as a death-penalty case — was simply a terrible idea.

The citizens of Ashtabula County did not elect Colleen O’Toole so she could come to plea agreements with our most vicious criminals. They put her in office to prosecute the offenders.

Why should it take Sezon blocking a plea deal to get the Gurto case to trial?

Here’s hoping the vocal public reaction to the proposed deal — as well as Sezon’s swift rejection of it — served as a needed lesson for O’Toole and her staff.

Plea agreements are sometimes necessary, but they shouldn’t be the first option, especially for our worst offenders.

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