Southside candidates running for sheriff, judge

Staff Compilation

Indiana primary elections are just five days away. There are five candidates running for Marion County Sheriff: Kerry Forestal, Tom Vaughn, Brian Durham, Jim Grimes and William Benjamin; and two candidates for Perry County Judge: Cheryl Rivera and Joseph Schaefer.

The candidates discussed their experience, qualifications, leadership, reasons for wanting to run for office and a desire to make a difference on the southside of Indianapolis. Remember to vote May 8.

Candidates for Marion County Sheriff

Name: Kerry Forestal

Age: 62

Residence: Indianapolis/Lawrence Township

Why do you want to become Marion County Sheriff?

I am a lifelong public servant. With the transition to the new Criminal Justice Center, I have the experience and the compassion to usher in a new era of criminal justice reform that Marion County residents want and deserve.

What are your qualifications to be sheriff?

I was promoted under every sheriff, democrat and republican, in over 35 years of service as a deputy sheriff. In 2002, Sheriff Frank Anderson selected me as his chief deputy, a position that oversees the entire sheriff’s department. The Marion County jail had been under 30 years of litigation for overcrowding. Together, along with current Sheriff John Layton, not only was that litigation lifted, but the Marion County jail has now been nationally accredited since 2010. The Marion County jail is now in the top 1 percent in the country. In 2010, President Barack Obama selected me as United States Marshal, where I carried out the duties of sheriff on the federal level in 60 Indiana counties. In 2015, Sheriff John Layton appointed me as Executive Officer and Criminal Division Commander.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected Marion County Sheriff?

1) Directing the MCSO Warrant Teams to focus on the most dangerous, violent criminals in Marion County, getting them off of the streets, and into jail.

2) Provide proper medical care to those facing addiction and mental illness issues to keep them from coming to jail in the first place.

3) Keeping kids out of trouble through the Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch and implementing a county-wide school safety initiative.

Name: Tom Vaughn

Age: 49

Residence: Southside of Marion County

Why do you want to become Marion County Sheriff?

I feel like I can make a positive difference. I have incorporated a current model of success in Southport. I am the only one who has created a budget from the beginning; managed it, and then come under the budget each year for the last four years. Furthermore, I am the ONLY one of the current candidates who has the work experience to lead a department AND be successful. All other candidates have not led an entire department like what I am doing successfully.

What are your qualifications to be sheriff?

Twenty-plus years in law enforcement and currently the chief of police in Southport.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected Marion County Sheriff?

First off, there are more than just three priorities that need immediate attention, however, my first priority would be to reduce the organizational ineptitude in the department regarding uneven pay and needless spending.

Secondly, the Marion County jail infrastructure is in extreme need of reorganization for both deputies and inmates. Our deputies primarily have no support and have no incentive to stay because of the pay disparity. For the inmates, there has been no realistic or successful system in place that properly addresses recidivism.

And finally, our 911 dispatch center needs a complete overhaul in favor of supporting our call center employees. The work environment currently lacks the basic necessities required to be successful on a daily basis. Additionally, there is a void of support for them to properly do their job and meet the challenges that face an under-manned and over-worked staff.

From there, I would begin focusing becoming a more transparent department that serves Marion County again!

Name: Brian Durham

Residence: Warren Township

Age: 48

Why do you want to become Marion County Sheriff?

As a lifelong Marion County resident, I have personally witnessed poor management of the sheriff’s department under democrat leadership for the past 16 years. The current budget had been used up by wasteful spending and is now being questioned by both the mayor and City County Council for using taxpayer money for without hesitation. We need change.

What are your qualifications to be sheriff?

I am a second-generation Marion County Deputy Sheriff and am now currently employed as an IMPD detective full time after the merger. I have worked as an active law enforcement officer for 27 continuous years working in many positions like patrol, detective work, and on the federal level with both the U.S. Marshal’s office and with the F.B.I. Organized Crime Drug Enforcements Task Force Grant.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected Marion County Sheriff?

I am going to return the Office of The Sheriff to its statutory responsibility of maintaining the jail and court security. I want to create a new treatment facility in the new Criminal Justice Center for the mentally ill and substance abuse offenders for rehabilitation. Lastly, I want to establish a jail to jobs program to release low-level offenders to help them become productive citizens and prevent recidivism.

Name: Jim Grimes

Age: N/A

Residence: N/A

 

Why do you want to become Marion County Sheriff?

The citizens of Marion County deserve a Sheriff that puts its safety ahead of politics, I can bring integrity back. I know how to work with all people to make Marion County safe again. I know how to stop the millions of dollars of waste. I am the only candidate that knows the budget, deputies and the Jail, we can make a difference.

What are your qualifications to be sheriff?

I am the only candidate that has owned and operated businesses, supervised hundreds of employees. I have attended over 400 budget, neighborhood and association meetings over the last four years. I have been president of the Chamber of Commerce, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Board of Realtors. I currently supervise 70 deputies at the Sheriff Office.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected Marion County Sheriff?

Stop wasting millions of taxpayer’s dollars a year. Stop the abuses at the jail and bring it under tight control. Train our deputies to become the best agency in the county and bring their pay up to reduce turnover. Assist all agencies in reducing crime by enlisting programs that work. We are in a crisis and we need assistance from all the county residents. Stand with me.

Name: William Benjamin

Age: N/A

Residence: N/A

Why do you want to become Marion County Sheriff?

N/A

What are your qualifications to be sheriff?

N/A

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected Marion County Sheriff?

N/A

Candidates for Small Claims Court Judge of Perry Township

Name: Cheryl Rivera

Age: N/A

Residence: Perry Township

Why do you want to become Small Claims Court Judge of Perry Township?

N/A

What is your greatest leadership quality?

My greatest leadership qualities are honesty and integrity. Both are necessary to be a consistent and successful judge.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected?

My priorities when elected are to maintain the integrity of the court, transition the efficient administration of the court, and to always be a fair and impartial judge.

Name: Joseph S. Schaefer

Age: 48

Residency: Perry Township

What is your greatest leadership quality?

My greatest quality is my ability to lead quietly yet confidently.  As a longtime coach, I am most impressed by coaches like Tony Dungy and Brad Stevens who lead without having to raise their voices or be the center of attention. In much the same way, I strive to surround myself with good people to share the spotlight while also taking the moral high ground.  My positive campaign will reflect my judicial demeanor should I be fortunate enough to win election.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected?

First and foremost, all parties will be treated fairly and with respect. That means court hearings will actually begin as scheduled instead of at least an hour late as is the present custom.  Secondly, all small claims courts in Marion County are becoming courts of record and completely paperless this calendar year.  As the only full-time attorney seeking this position, I look forward to bringing my courtroom experience to Perry Township so that optimal efficiency is attained. Lastly, I look forward to working with representatives of our growing diverse population in order to make certain that all of our newest members of Perry Township have proper representation in our court system.

Name: Joseph S. Schaefer

Age: 48

Residency: Perry Township

What is your greatest leadership quality?

My greatest quality is my ability to lead quietly yet confidently.  As a longtime coach, I am most impressed by coaches like Tony Dungy and Brad Stevens who lead without having to raise their voices or be the center of attention. In much the same way, I strive to surround myself with good people to share the spotlight while also taking the moral high ground.  My positive campaign will reflect my judicial demeanor should I be fortunate enough to win election.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected?

First and foremost, all parties will be treated fairly and with respect. That means court hearings will actually begin as scheduled instead of at least an hour late as is the present custom.  Secondly, all small claims courts in Marion County are becoming courts of record and completely paperless this calendar year.  As the only full-time attorney seeking this position, I look forward to bringing my courtroom experience to Perry Township so that optimal efficiency is attained. Lastly, I look forward to working with representatives of our growing diverse population in order to make certain that all of our newest members of Perry Township have proper representation in our court system.