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Candidates, all 11 of them, get in line for sheriff

Eleven candidates have filed with the Harrison County Republican Central Committee to be considered for sheriff, to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Sheriff William E. (Bill) Carver, a Republican.
The candidates include Carver’s chief, Rolla E. Pirtle; current officers Jodie L. Wilson and Randall K. Orme (Orme was chief under Democratic Sheriff Edward L. Davis Jr., also now deceased); Milltown Chief Marshal Ray E. Saylor; Harrison County reservists James P. Boyd (commander of the current reserve force) and Michael A. Gregory; former reservist Howard G. Dismang; former sheriff’s deputies Steve W. Hamm and C. Wendell Smith; Indiana State Police Trooper Shelley Romero (the only female candidate), and Army retiree Harlan R. Fisher.
Carver, a Republican in his third year in office, died Sept. 29 following a massive heart attack. His party will select a replacement at a caucus of party leaders tomorrow (Thursday) night.
The caucus begins at 7:30 at the Harrison County Court House, in the third-floor circuit courtroom.
Candidates do not have to be Republicans, and the opening portion of the caucus will be open to the public. The final decision, after secret balloting by precinct party leaders, will be announced immediately that night.
Each candidate will be allowed to address the audience briefly to explain their campaign platforms, after which the meeting will be closed to all but the precinct party leaders.
Votes will be cast by secret ballot and will continue until a majority decision is reached, said GOP county chair Larry Shickles. Shickles, who could vote to break a tie, said he will not do so. He will instead continue the voting until a majority decision is reached.
After a winner has been declared, an announcement will be made to the public on the first floor of the courthouse. The winner will be certified by the clerk and immediately sworn into office. The new sheriff will fulfill the remainder of Carver’s term but must win the election next year to retain the seat.
A GOP committee met Monday night to hear concerns of those persons now serving in the sheriff’s department. The interviews and the concerns are confidential, Shickles said.
The committee began interviewing candidates Sunday night and will continue again tonight to review resumes, qualifications and campaign platforms. That information will be made available to caucus members, Shickles said.
Although rumored to be a candidate, Shickles said he did not think that would have been fair. He added, “It’s not in my crystal ball. It’s not my life’s dream to be sheriff.”
Shickles said it will not necessarily be detrimental for a candidate to have cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. Indiana residents do not declare a party affiliation when they register to vote. Instead, they can request either party’s ballot in a Primary. In the past, especially, many Republican voters chose a Democratic ballot because there were few to no choices on the Republican ballot in Harrison County.
“A lot of us have voted on the other ticket because there was no competition on the Republican ballot,” he said. “There’s been a lot of that.”