The Herald Bulletin

November 8, 2013

Editorial: Political mudslinging driving Elwood into quagmire

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Hopes were high when Ron Arnold was elected mayor. A Republican in the Democrat stronghold of Elwood, Arnold came into office in 2012 with the experience of big-time politics, having worked for Mike Pence, who then represented our area in Congress.

Arnold, many assumed, would have the savvy to join hands with those across the political aisle. He presented himself as a level-headed family man.

But some others have a distinctly different impression of him. So much so that, in October, four city council members signed a letter asking for Arnold's resignation.

Arnold has been headstrong as mayor, going after former Parks Superintendent Dan Nance for misuse of funds. Nance, who accused Arnold of playing politics, was found not guilty of criminal charges Wednesday by a Madison Circuit Court 3 jury.

It was Arnold's turn to level political gamesmanship accusations, in an article published recently in The Herald Bulletin, at the council and the Fraternal Order of Police. The latter organization has expressed concern that Arnold is throwing his weight around the Elwood Police Department, threatening jobs and showing favoritism.

Add to the mix a recent letter from Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings, advising the Elwood police department to turn investigations of the mayor and his family over to other police entities in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

That brings up the issue of Arnold's sons' run-ins with the law. In December, two of the boys — both juveniles — were arrested, one on suspicion of arson and the other battery and possession of alcohol. Another son — Tyler, age 20 — faces recent felony charges for allegedly shaking a baby. The infant was seriously injured.

It's been rumored (by city council members!) that Arnold himself is the subject of a state police investigation, but state police aren't talking.

Arnold, with the "help" of his sons, has brought much grief upon himself. Everywhere he turns, it seems, he steps on a landmine. But Arnold alone does not shoulder all blame for the roiling political turbulence in Elwood.

What are council members doing calling for his resignation? That's not the council's responsibility. They should focus on doing the jobs they were elected to do — especially overseeing the city's budget.

Yes, if a police investigation turns up criminal or serious ethical violations, everyone should call for the mayor to step down. But until that time, he is Elwood's mayor.

The next mayoral election is about two years away. In Elwood, it will be a referendum on Arnold — and on council members. Let the voters decide.

In the meantime, everyone would be wise to heed the words of citizen Finn Capshaw, who spoke at a city council meeting Monday after political venom spewed from the mouths of city officials and residents.

Capshaw moved to Elwood just recently and likes the city. He warned, however, that the political mudslinging of the day is driving all of Elwood into a quagmire.

In summary Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold, with the "help" of his sons, has brought much grief to himself. But others in Elwood, including the city council, share the blame for creating political acrimony.