DEAR SHERIFF: I have heard of proposed Indiana legislation in the last few years to elect one county executive who would appoint the sheriff and essentially remove the sheriff from being elected. What is your opinion on such legislation?
ANSWER: The Kernan/Shepard report is also titled “Streamlining Local Government.” This 2010 report can be found on the Internet. Although there are some good suggestions in this report, there are some parts that the public should be knowledgeable about, and what some state officials are pushing for at the county government level.
The report states, “Too many roles that should require professional qualifications and standards — such as assessor, sheriff and coroner — are in fact elected positions, with few if any requirements for technical or professional expertise. We recommend removing these positions from the ballot and making elected officials responsible for appointing professionals to these roles.” And, the report goes on to recommend that we “establish a single-person elected county chief executive and transfer the responsibility for administering the duties of the county auditor, treasurer, recorder, assessor, surveyor, sheriff and coroner to the county executive.”
This year we get to vote for state and local officials who can make an impact on our local economic development, our public safety, and the future our state legislature in enacting future laws or protecting the rights outlined in our state and federal Constitutions. Some people in our state government believe “We the People” are too incompetent to make this decision at the ballot box.
Can you imagine the potential perfect storm that could be created with an elected county executive, who then appoints the sheriff? The sheriff would no longer be elected and no longer accountable to the people, but must answer only to the county executive. Have you heard of the good ‘ole boy club? I dare say, you haven’t seen anything yet, if this change occurs at the county level.