Marion County Sheriff John Layton is on the defensive on the eve of Election day. Layton is seeking re-election and the mistaken release of jail inmates is the biggest issue in the race and there was another one over the weekend.
Republican Emmitt Carney is telling voters that 23 inmates have been set free by mistake. Layton says the Sheriff’s department was responsible for only six of those cases.
Carney appeared with GOP Mayor Greg Ballard Monday afternoon in a last ditch effort to spur his underfunded campaign on to a Tuesday upset.
“And I’m here today,” said Ballard, “because we need new leadership at the Marion County Jail.”
“If I’m Sheriff the buck will stop with me,” said Carney. “It will start and stop with me. It’ll be my responsibility.”
The mistaken weekend release of sex offender Torry Pargo may help. The Carney campaign’s biggest tool has been direct mail pieces that accuse John Layton of mismanaging the jail and releasing inmates accidentally.
Layton has responded with harsh TV ads that suggest he is worried about the Carney attacks. The say Carney has no experience. “It’s nothing about who’s ahead and who’s behind,” said Layton. “It’s the truth.”
The sheriff said the release of Pargo, who has been recaptured, was the fault of a court employee.
“If they wanna take that and turn it around for political purposes, I guess that’s their job,” he said. “It’s all politics and it’s a shame when you have to lie.”
Carney is controlling the debate. Yet he has not been able to raise the funds necessary to place ads on TV.
And Layton is not just the incumbent in this race, he is a Democrat in a Democratic county. That makes him the favorite despite the jail problems that continue to pop up on a regular basis.