Volume 2, Number 12

March 24, 1998

Grassroots United holds sheriff forum

By Scott Tibbs

Monroe County sheriff candidates gathered at a Grassroots United candidate forum on March 23 to explain their qualifications for being sheriff. Present at the forum were Democratic candidates Bill Brown, Kathleen Brown, Randall Ferguson, Gib Niswander, Stephen Sharp, and William Wampler. Also present were Republican candidates Gary Darland, Jay Stephens, Robert Sutter, and embattled incumbent Randy Williamson.

Grassroots United President Rick Robertson opened the evening noting how we are fortunate to live in a democracy where we can attend forums like this one to learn about our elected officials. Robertson also explained the threefold mission of Grassroots United: to educate voters on the issues, train citizens to be leaders, and get people involved in their government.

Each candidate was given an opportunity to explain why he or she should be sheriff, and outlined an agenda for the office.

Bill Brown noted his years of police experience, including two terms as Monroe County Sheriff, in 1975 and 1991. In 1975, he introduced community policing, and began various programs in 1991.

Kathleen Brown said she wants the office to be administered like a business, and has experience in police work locally. Brown also noted the need for better equipment and training for the officers.

Gary Darland noted a family history in law enforcement, and his own experience as a police officer in Indianapolis. Darland noted he is upset at the high crime rate in Monroe County, and had been a victim of crime himself. He also stressed the need for more officers and more equipment.

Randy Ferguson noted he has never been a police officer, but was in the navy and is a minister.

Gib Niswander noted 17 years of experience in law enforcement. Niswander hopes to increase drunken driving patrols, as well as introduce sensitivity training due to the diversity in Monroe County.

Stephen Sharp noted he has been on the Bloomington Police Department since 1976. Sharp proposed an open door policy, as well as the need for more deputies and new technology for the force to use.

Jay Stephens proclaimed a need to restore honesty and integrity to the sheriff's office, and noted 20 years experience with the state police.

Robert Sutter organized Monroe County Toys for Tots. He also noted the need for more officers, and promised to lead by example. He sees problems with gangs, drugs, and domestic violence.

Bill Wampler noted he is a lifelong Bloomington resident, but has never been a police officer.

Randy Williamson noted his 27 years with the department, and noted the difficulty of hiring new deputies due to budget cuts form the County Council.

Various questions were asked from the audience, including what each candidate would do about drugs, with each candidate noting the need for education. With regard to policies regarding domestic violence, Ferguson noted the need for sensitivity training, while Darland proposed a volunteer chaplain's core to counsel victims of domestic violence.

Grassroots United will be holding another candidate forum on Monday, April 13. This will include candidate for the State Representative and County Council races. Candidates invited include State Representative candidates Jeff Ellington and incumbent Jerry Bales.

Additional articles in this issue:

Tickets respond to candidate surveys and
The Seven Deadly Sins of IUSA by Matthew S. Fourman

Protecting Workers' Paychecks, by U.S. Rep. John Hostettler

Refuting the Distortions by Scott Tibbs

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