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Democratic sheriff hopefuls square off

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By JIM CLARK
Democratic candidates for sheriff in Marion County visited the State Road 200 Coalition on Monday, and the first question showed that the people are demanding answers from the hopefuls.
Former sheriff Ed Dean was the recipient of the first query, and there were no punches pulled as he was asked if he would rehire “some of his cronies” if he were elected. Dean replied that he would promise a job to no one.
He said that he would not allow what is called double-dipping, people who are collecting state retirement but are getting a public salary, and he included himself in that category. He said that he would continue receiving his retirement payments, but would subtract them from the public salary and only take the difference from the county.
Dennis McFatten, who until just before qualifying thought he would be the only Democratic candidate, noted he is also retired from the Sheriff’s Office, having served 14 years under Dean, who was sheriff from 1998 to 2012.
McFatten said he was “disheartened” by what had happened to the office under Sheriff Chris Blair. “Ethical leadership needs to be brought back to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office,” he told those in attendance at the Collins Center at TimberRidge.
Dean also said he was “troubled with the negative culture” at the MCSO. He promised to reinstitute strategic planning, and, noting the traffic on nearby State Road 200, promised to reinstate the motorcycle unit for traffic enforcement.
The candidates were part of a continuing series of forums put on by the Coalition. Republican candidates for sheriff appeared a couple of months ago, when at the time it appeared McFatten would be the only Democrat. Dean’s entry means both Democrats and Republicans may vote for this office on Aug. 30 in the primaries.