Aside from battling the drug problem and youth violence in the county, Hardin also said he wants to lay out a clear plan for a new county jail facility. He said the current jail is aging and in need of replacement, and while budget constraints likely won’t allow for construction of a new facility within five years, Hardin believes there should be a concrete vision of an efficient new jail during the next decade.
Mellinger boasts the most political experience among the candidates, and despite being the only Democratic sheriff candidate currently working outside the county, he’s also the only candidate on either ticket who has held the position previously. Mellinger served on the department for 21 years from 1979 to 2001, including two stints as sheriff from 1991 to 1998.
He went on to serve two terms in the Indiana Legislature from 1999 to 2001. Currently, Mellinger is the training director at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. He said that several people in the county approached him a year ago and asked him to consider running again. Mellinger said he’s disappointed with several shortcomings of the Richardson administration and felt he could make a difference in a homecoming bid.
“This was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and I’d love the chance to do it again,” Mellinger said.
The former sheriff said his primary goal is to grow a well-trained reserve force, something he said the previous administration should’ve done, considering the mired economic situation of the county. Mellinger promised he could triple or even quadruple the current number of reserve deputies in about a year. He said the move could save the county money as well as free up the patrol and detective force to handle problems like drug abuse that are affecting the community.