Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gracious Winners, Sore Losers, and Desperate Measures in the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Race

Desperados Find Independent "Elf" Candidate for Old Republican Guard Wing

Shell-shocked by a Barry Richard victory last week, the power brokers at the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department didn't waste much time finding a candidate to run against former LPD officer Barry Richard in the general election.   After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.

One of Schiuzi's Facebook profile pictures
The challenger, Chris Schiuzi, is currently employed as an assistant manager for Lowe's.  While there is nothing wrong with working at Lowe's it is fair to expect that a sheriff's candidate would have some sort of policing experience within the past decade.

Schiuzi is reportedly running as an independent, although he identifies himself as a Republican.  According to a report in the Journal & Courier, he is currently seeking the required number of signatures to have his named placed on the ballot and has created a Facebook page for his campaign.

We knew they were desperate to hold onto their power, but until this announcement was made today we didn't understand just how desperate they really are.  Former Sheriff Dave Heath and his band of merry men just can't accept the fact that it's time for the "Old Republican Guard" to give up the keys to their clubhouse. 

To be fair, Schiuzi is a former police officer and reportedly served on both the Purdue and Lafayette police departments; however, he's been out of policing for so long there's no way he's qualified to run a large sheriff's department.  If this is the best they can do then Richard has nothing to worry about.  It's his election to win or lose at this point.

Schiuzi may be a nice guy, but how can you take someone seriously as a professional candidate who has portrayed Will Ferrell's Elf character as a Facebook profile picture?  Buffoonery isn't something that gives an average citizen a sense of confidence when it comes to electing the highest law enforcement officer in their county.

We also have to ask the obvious question.  If Chris Schiuzi were really interested in the sheriff's job, wouldn't he have announced prior to the primary?  It is simply not credible for any rational voter to believe that this man had aspirations to become sheriff prior to Dave Heath's defeat.  Voters will see through the thin veil.  This is a back door attempt for the Old Republican Guard to hang on to power.

Sore Losers Eat Sour Grapes


Also worthy of mention is the ungracious response of Dave Heath after he lost the election.

"I don't get it, I really don't," Heath was reported as saying after realizing he lost. 

What don't you get, Dave?  The voters rejected cronyism and elected someone who has invested the best part of his life in our community.  Barry Richard continues to give to the community.  He cares more about people than the power behind a badge.

"I was a little surprised, because Barry hadn't voted in a Republican primary in 16 years or in a general election for 10 years, and it didn't make a bit of difference to Republican voters," Heath told a Journal and Courier reporter.

No, Dave, it didn't matter.  In fact, voters saw it as a positive attribute considering the fact that the role of a sheriff should not be a political one.  In fact, many of us have grown tired of the decades old tradition of outgoing sheriffs choosing their own replacement and handing the torch from one friend to the next.  Dave's torch-bearing years are over, and it's time for him to retire.  He can afford it, after all, since he will receive three government pensions for his stints as sheriff, mayor, and work release director.

Gracious Winner


In contrast, Barry Richard has always conducted himself with class.

"It was emotional, Richard said, because he felt for Heath's family members and the work they put into the campaign. Richard said it wasn't time to celebrate but rather to focus on uniting the Republican Party," read a statement in the Journal and Courier.

What Barry may not realize is that uniting the Republican Party is not on Dave Heath's narrow-minded agenda. That notion was put to rest after Heath hijacked the party in an eleventh hour coup when he announced to a shocked crowd that he was taking over the party as its only candidate for chairman.  It is reasonable to assume that Heath was setting himself up as a sheriff's candidate-power broker when he made this stealthy, calculated move.  This angered many Republicans in a local party made up of three loose-knit factions, which ultimately cost Heath votes.

Barry went on to say, "I hope to get some guidance and help, not only from Dave but also the previous sheriffs in making sure that we're successful," after the election.

WLFI showed Heath angrily wagging his finger at Richard
Our best advice to Barry is to steer clear of Dave Heath and his cronies, and especially do not ask them for advice.   Here's a reminder as to why:  “There’s a difference between what you’re going to do and what I’m going to do. I’m not going to do what you’re going to do,” Heath angrily told Richard after a campaign debate. 

Richard would do well to learn the lessons that Caesar was forced to learn the hard way.   Because of Caeser's naivety and lack of understanding for the motives of Brutus, a "trusted" friend literally stabbed him in the back, putting an end to his career and life. Dave Heath is no friend to Barry Richard, nor can he be trusted to give guidance to someone who he believes stole "his jail."

Why Dave Heath Lost


Here's our analysis as to why Heath lost the election.

1)  Barry Richard was the more dynamic candidate. 

Barry has spent the past 30  years of his life working among real people.  You didn't find him drinking beer at the FOP or isolating himself from the community at the country club.  He was out working among blue collar workers all of his life.  Many parents find Barry to be a great role model for kids.  Richard served as a local DARE officer for the Lafayette Police Department for enough years that many of those former students voted for their former mentor.  Even though Barry registered as a Republican, he has remained apolitical and appealed to many Democrats, some of whom were willing to cross party lines.

2)  The FOP endorsement was a turn-off to voters.

If there's one thing that turn voters off it's the politicizing of the police.  In general, citizens believe police officers should be non-partisan.  Some states do not allow for the partisan election of a sheriff candidate to avoid any type of impropriety.  The FOP endorsement backfired on the Heath campaign for these reasons.  Voters were further turned off by the unprecedented endorsement after it was announced there would be no endorsement.  We have talked to people who voted for Richard because of that fatal endorsement.

3) Voters wanted change.

Many people have grown weary of what they perceive as a "good ole boy network" when it comes to the leadership within the sheriff's department.  It's been said that power corrupts.  The best way to avoid corruption within any organization is to bring in new blood from time-to-time.  Power also breeds arrogance, and arrogant is one adjective that we've heard most often in describing Heath's attitude.

While some voters appreciated Heath's past service, many also believed it was time for him to retire since he is at an age where most people at his maturity level are enjoying retirement. 

Young Dave Heath
An older and frail looking Dave Heath

There were also rumors and complaints that Heath has not invested full-time hours at the work release center where he is director, which caused many to wonder if the rumors were true about Heath putting Major Charlie Williams in charge of the day-to-day operations should he win the election. It certainly makes sense that they would employ this type of political bait-and-switch scheme should the Old Republican Guard maintain power. 

Dave's appearance as being feeble was also a factor in the election.  In fact, many people were shocked by the change in Heath's appearance as he has been out of the public spotlight for nearly two decades.  While we want to be careful not to discriminate due to age, we also believe it is important for a sheriff to be physically able to engage in official police officer duties.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that Richard is more qualified on the basis of being more physically fit for the job.

1 comment:

  1. I might add that voters are looking to "reform" police departments nationwide. While we once thought that our local departments were still safe from the corruption witnessed across the country, we have found out lately there is trouble at home too. My hope rests in the notion that voters are looking for law enforcement leadership that can shed the us vs. them mentality. I certainly am interested in a police force that understands they are policing 'among citizens' not policing 'over citizens'. Barry Richard has a track record of working for and with some of the "least" of our community. His style of policing has been "hands on" one on one leadership. Heath is the more traditional "thin blue line" type cop. This style of policeman considers himself the barrier between a good and benevolent government, and the chaos and unpredictability of the citizen. The sooner we retire the "thin blue line" style of law enforcement the better. My hope is the voters understand this, but I see the need for a bunch more voter education. Afterall we elected Laura Zeman, not a thinner blue line in the county.