Pictured (L to R) during a monthly board meeting Tuesday for Builders Association Kosciusko Fulton Counties at 2517 are: Joni Truex, Builders Association Kosciusko Fulton Counties executive officer; Curt Nisly, republican State Representative District 22 candidate; Michael Stinfer, independent State Representative District 22 candidate; David Kolbe, democrat State Representative District 22 candidate and Brett Harter, builders association board president. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union
Pictured (L to R) during a monthly board meeting Tuesday for Builders Association Kosciusko Fulton Counties at 2517 are: Joni Truex, Builders Association Kosciusko Fulton Counties executive officer; Curt Nisly, republican State Representative District 22 candidate; Michael Stinfer, independent State Representative District 22 candidate; David Kolbe, democrat State Representative District 22 candidate and Brett Harter, builders association board president. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union
The three county sheriff and three state representative candidates spoke Tuesday during the monthly general membership meeting of the Builders Association Kosciusko Fulton Counties.
The meeting was attended by 30 members at the 2517 in Warsaw and was closed to the general public.
Joni Truex, Builders Association executive officer, said the meeting was not a debate, but an opportunity for members to get to learn more about the candidates.
“We have a controlled audience and when there is a debate open to the public it brings a completely different element to the audience as far as questions, and I would like to see all of the candidates have a debate – District 22 and sheriff and anyone who has a contested race,” Truex said.
Sheriff candidates Aaron Rovenstine, republican, Travis Marsh, independent, and Patrick Jamison, libertarian; and state representative District 22 candidates Curt Nisly, republican; Michael Stinfer, independent, and David Kolbe, democrat, spoke during the meeting.
Each had two minutes to speak about why they are seeking office, followed by time for questions and answers.
Jamison, a 17-year Burket resident, is a millwright who works with machinery.
He was a reserve officer in 2001 at Pierceton Police Department, and an officer for Rochester Police Department from 2002 to 2003. He served in the Indiana National Guard from 1990 to 1998 as an infantry soldier.
“I’ve watched this country slip away day by day into something I did not care to see when I salute the flag everyday,” Jamison said. “I believe we are losing our freedoms more and more as the time goes by, and I believe a constitutional sheriff who is willing to stand up and has the authority to interposition himself to stand between his people and the federal tyranny is important.”
He also said the sheriff should have the authority to nullify “unconstitutional” law.
Marsh is in his 22nd year of law enforcement. He currently is a lieutenant of the Milford Police Department, having served in the position since 2009.
He served as a detective sergeant with the KCSD from 1997 to 2000, and as deputy from 2000 to 2007.
He also served as a patrolman for Syracuse Police Department from 1997 to 1999; as Silver Lake police chief from 1996 to 1997; and Pierceton Police Department deputy marshal from 1994 to 1997.
“With the change to the Indiana code in July it will present a lot of challenges for the next sheriff,” Marsh said. “And whoever the sheriff will be they will need the support of the community, and we will be responsible for more prisoners and where to put them and how to afford to house them,” Marsh said.
Marsh said he feels the county’s website could be updated with more information listing sex offenders and sheriff’s sales.
He also would like to re-establish the reserve officer program.
Rovenstine, current KCSD captain, has been in law enforcement for 30 years.
“I’m 54 years old now and my point is we’ve all been through some life experiences at this age and you have a different perspective on life,” Rovenstine said. “I’ve learned a lot the past eight years watching Rocky run things and the pledge I make to you is I assure you if I am to be elected I am prepared to do a good job for the county.”
The candidates were asked about their view of the role of sheriff.
“I view the role of sheriff as being more of an executive office, a leadership office, but my personal view is that the sheriff should be about constitution enforcement,” Jamison said.
Marsh said the role should be to work with all local law enforcement branches as well as state agencies.
“There is a highly competitive nature between police departments and sometimes that breeds division and communication breaks down, and we’ve always got to bridge those communications between all the departments we work with,” Marsh said.
Rovenstine said the sherriff is the chief law enforcement in the county who needs to take a leadership role.
“I’ve found in my eight years we’ve cooperated with the state police, and the sheriff needs to make sure there is cooperation and we haven’t had problems with that,” Rovenstine said.
State representative candidates then introduced themselves.
Kolbe has been an attorney in Warsaw for more than 32 years and previously served as the prosecuting attorney for Kosciusko County.
He was an adjunct instructor in political science for IPFW for about 15 years. He has taught rule of law since 2008 in former communist states in Central and Eastern Europe including Ukraine, Latvia, Poland and Hungary.
“I believe in the rule of law and have been part of our government system as a lawyer for 33 years,” Kolbe said.
Nisly owns C-Tech Solutions, a website and computer service he founded in 2006. His wife is the Elkhart County Republican chairwoman.
“A few years ago I was challenged by the quote, ‘The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,’” Nisly said. “In the United States, government is of the people, by the people and for the people, and it’s normal citizens who get involved in the process and what makes America America.”
Stinfer served in the Marine Corps in 1999 to 2003 and served during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is currently an Army Ranger with the Indiana National Guard.
He said he believes a representative is needed who will step up and not be part of the establishment.
“If you’re looking for the perfect candidate I’m not the perfect candidate. I’ve made mistakes in my life, but one thing I know what to do and how to do is to take ownership and responsibility for my actions,” Stinfer said. “I believe the reason I am in this race is because I believe everyone deserves the best leadership possible. I’m over politicians and if you want a politician, that’s not me.”
District 22 candidates were asked if they agree to a debate.
“We desperately want to have debates and think it is important to account to the public in that format because I believe the job is about defending ideas at committee level, on the house floor and debating with the governor, and I’m not afraid to do that,” Kolbe said.
Stinfer said the country is a republic and leaders need to have vision.
“Anyone can say they support something or are against something, but our country is in the position it’s in because our leaders are not standing up and giving vision and ideas. Without vision the people will perish,” Stinfer said.
Nisly said he felt Tuesday’s meeting was a debate, and if an organization such as the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce wanted to hold a debate he will attend.
The candidates were asked how they would handle a situation when their personal convictions lean one direction and their constituents feel a different way.
“My core principles are constitutional principles, but if there are times when my preference is different than the people I’m representing then I have to weigh that out and say my preferences are more important than getting re-elected,” Nisly said. “But if I say I am here as a representative of the people I might be willing to cast a vote because that’s the way the voters are inclined.”
Stinfer said to even consider voting based on being re-elected is absurd.
“We live in a society of representative government and the voice of the people is what matters,” Stinfer said.
Kolbe said representatives should both follow their personal convictions and their constituents’ feelings. He said he will not change his stance on pro-life issues, and that he is pro-life and that won’t change.
“Sometimes you just vote the way your constituents want whether you like it or not,” Kolbe said.
He said for example he and State Rep. Dave Wolkins have been against gambling, but Wolkins voted for it because Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois legalized gambling.
“It is a great source of revenue in this state. I don’t like it, it feels bad but I probably would have made the same decision,” Kolbe said.