Former Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, forced out of office seven years ago by term limits, now seeks to return to his old job. He is competing against Harold Lush for the Democratic nomination.
Republican Mike Brickner is unopposed.
Lush said, "My qualifications don't compare to Dave's." Lush worked plant security at the former Bethlehem Steel mill. He ran for sheriff in 2006.
Reynolds, who was Portage police chief before being elected sheriff, was instrumental in the arrests of two notorious serial killers in the region, Eugene Britt and Christopher Peterson.
The issues in the sheriff's race this year should seem eerily familiar. When Reynolds first ran for sheriff, the county was facing overcrowding at the Porter County Jail. Under Reynolds' leadership, the county redesigned the jail to eliminate elevators and switched to indirect supervision to reduce, but not eliminate, the need for additional manpower at the new jail.
"When I was sheriff, I asked for 21 jailers. They gave me none," Reynolds recalls. For several years, he used federal grants to fund the 11 new jailers hired.
And now the County Council finally has authorized hiring additional guards to open the third pod, or unit, at the jail. Reynolds said that should have happened when the jail opened.
Lush noted the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the county if jail conditions don't improve.
"I think the inmates are being treated inhumanely," Lush said.
Reynolds wants to work more closely with other agencies to address the county's drug problem.
"Porter County plates are going into Chicago and buying drugs and coming back here," Reynolds said.
Lush is particularly concerned about the drug issue. "It's a silent epidemic that will continue to escalate" without the involvements of parents and police, he said. "Parents should use drug-testing kits."
Reynolds wants to increase the department's staffing to address patrols. As the county has grown in population, there haven't been additional officers hired to keep pace, he noted.
Public safety "sometimes, unfortunately, comes with a price tag," he said.
That's the kind of forward thinking the county needs in a sheriff. It's better to plan well than to have to react quickly when a predictable crisis arrives.
In this race, Reynolds is the standout candidate.
We endorse Reynolds for the Democratic nomination for Porter County sheriff.