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Former Kosciusko County sheriff’s family members to vote in caucus to replace him

WSBT-22

Former sheriff Aaron Rovenstine’s father and son will have a hand in choosing his successor at the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department.

Rovenstine was convicted of intimidating a Warsaw police officer in May. A judge sentenced him to a one-year suspended sentence and 250 hours of community service. Between he and his father, a WSBT 22 report showed the men have led the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department 26 of the past 40 years.

Since Rovenstine was ousted from office, six candidates have filed to replace him. Mike Ragan will lead the upcoming Wednesday caucus, as the county’s Republican party chairman.

“I think we’re going to have an honest and fair election,” said Ragan.

Sixty-nine precinct committee members will decide the next sheriff, made up of community business people, a former judge, the prosecutor, council members and the mayor, just to name a few.

Aaron Rovenstine was elected as a precinct committeeman last spring; but his son, Austin, will serve as a proxy and cast the vote. Ragan said. Rovenstine gave all of his precinct committee duties to Austin earlier this spring, but the former sheriff is still listed as a committeeman.

Aaron’s father, former Kosciusko County Sheriff Al Rovenstine, is also a voting member.

“The citizens of these precincts elected the Rovenstines to represent them as precinct committeemen in any caucuses or any other function they have to do,” said Ragan. “They must have had faith in them or they wouldn’t have elected them.”

According to rules for the Indiana Republican Party, a felony conviction is one of the causes for removing a precinct committeeman. However, the person can only be removed through a designated process.

An individual must file a complaint with the county central committee, which then prompts a hearing board, according to spokesman Pete Seat. If the board has a majority vote for removal, that person will be removed.

“It’s our position that a convicted felon should be removed as a precinct committeeman, but there is a due process procedure to follow which is left to the local party to carry out,” said Seat.

The caucus

On Wednesday, all six candidates will have three minutes to speak. Each candidate is also allowed to have another person introduce them if they so choose.

All 69 voting members will vote until a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. Ragan expects the caucus to go to several rounds.

It’s a secret ballot process in which designated counters will tally the votes. If there is a tie, Ragan, who is not allowed to endorse a candidate, will break the tie.

The caucus will take place at the historic courthouse in the center of Warsaw at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Ragan said the caucus will first be open to candidates and their families, precinct committee members, caucus workers and the press. If there is any room left, the general public will be allowed in, although no one is permitted to stand around the courtroom or in the doorways.

Meet the candidates

Kyle Dukes has been a long-time resident of Kosciusko County and has worked for the Indiana State Police for the past 17 years as a trooper. He began his law enforcement career as a Reserve Deputy in Noble County. In a news release, Dukes said his top priorities are encouraging teamwork, promoting a working relationship between law enforcement in the county, information-sharing, community policing and educating youth on the drug epidemic.

Jordan Foreman served for five years as a Warsaw police detective. He serves as the Manager of Clinical Operations for Lutheran EMS and is also a reserve officer with Winona Lake Police Department. If elected, Foreman said he would focus on reducing recidivism rates for drug abusers, increase public accountability and transparency and better interactions between law enforcement agencies.

Sgt. Det. Josh Spangle has served as a deputy sheriff for the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department for the past 15 years. He began his career with Rochester’s police force. If elected, he said he would work to better the relationship between KCSD and other law enforcement agencies.

Interim Sheriff William “Rocky” Goshert took over for Rovenstine and was previously elected to two-terms as a sheriff of Kosciusko County. He began his law enforcement career with the Indiana State Police. Should he be elected, he said his experience would particularly aid in the administration of the jail. He also said he is the best candidate to establish “stability and calm” in the sheriff’s department.

Louis “Bill” Brown began his law enforcement career with the Indiana State Police in 1979 and retired in 2012. He is currently an inspector for the Indiana State Department of Toxicology. If elected, Brown said he would bring his leadership, integrity and professionalism to the sheriff’s department.

Kelly Prater is an assistant director for the Work Release Center in Kosciusko County. Previously, he worked for the county as a jailer serving as a transportation officer. If elected, Prater said he would bring years of experience, enthusiasm and a hard work ethic.

Here is a complete list of the voting precinct committeemen and women:

Robin Adams, John Beer, Ryan Bradenberger, Beverly Brown, Kimberly Cates, Lynne Christiansen, Anthony “Tony” Ciriello, Stacey Cox, Cindy Dobbins, John Dougherty, James Eads, Gary Eppenpaugh, Mark Fishburn, Jerry Frush, Randall Girod, Karen Grady, Mark Grady, Daniel Hampton, Thomas Harman, Tyler Haines, James Heierman, Heidi Heinisch, Rhonda Helser, Merle Holden, Lynn Howie, James Jarrette, Christopher Kehler, Kathleen Keirn, Mike Klondaris, Janet Knispel, Rebecca Kubacki, Larry Kinsey, Bruce Lamb, Teresa Martin, Evan McKinley, Jason McSherry, Marsha McSherry, Rhonda Miller, Chad Miner, Gloria Miner, Sue Ann Mitchell, Thomas Moore, Gordon Nash, Craig Nayrocker, Mark Nunez, Jo Paczkowski, James Pecsi, Tom Pletcher, Diane Quance, Mike Ragan, Diana Rhoades, Frank Rhoades, Edward Rock, Austin Rovenstine, C. Alan Rovenstine, Christopher Sanders, Steven Sechrist, Peggy Sellers, Ron Shoemaker, Joshua Spangle, Wes Stouder, Joseph Thallemer, Jerry Titus, Travis Trump, Stephen Tucker, Marlene Weller, Karen Wildman, David Wolkins and Janice Workman.

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