Editor, Times-Union:

Sheriff Dukes recently claimed that his decision to decline a regular salary contract with the County Council and fall back on a statutory formula that makes him one of the highest-paid sheriffs in the entire state was simply part of his campaign promise to get back to “following state statutes.” Don’t be fooled.  

The law that Sheriff Dukes is referencing allows sheriffs to utilize the salary formula, including the tax warrant loophole; it does not require them to. The vast majority of sheriffs in Indiana and every previous sheriff in Kosciusko County rejected this method of compensation because they know that it is ridiculous for a county sheriff to have a higher salary than the governor and the attorney general. By entering a contract for reasonable compensation with the County Council, those sheriffs aren’t violating any state statute – they’re simply putting the community first and looking out for the taxpayers.

Sheriff Dukes also claimed that educating the voters on his salary in comparison to other Indiana sheriffs and elected officials is a “misuse of public information.” I believe that it is public information that the citizens ought to have.

The average salary for a sheriff in Indiana is about $110,000. By refusing to enter a salary contract with the County Council, Sheriff Dukes has unilaterally inflated his own pay up to $162,580. He is one of only a few elected sheriffs from the 92 counties to make that decision. The voters should know about their sheriff’s decisions, and they should especially know when the vast majority of sheriffs take a different and more reasonable path.

The voters should also know that they have a choice. I view the office of sheriff as a service to the community, not an opportunity for personal enrichment. If elected sheriff, I will enter into a fiscally conservative salary contract with the County Council that is in line with the statewide average.  Any money that may be lost to me personally by making that decision would be more than compensated by the honor of serving this community.  

I appreciate your attention to this issue, and I would appreciate your support in the May 3 Republican primary.

Jim Smith

Republican Candidate for Kosciusko Co. Sheriff

Pierceton, via email