John Layton

Democrats sworn in as Marion County officeholders

January 1st, 2015 at 10:54 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Marion County Democrats swept the November elections and New Years is the first day in office for the winners.

Six Democrats took the oath of office at the Indiana History Center Thursday. They include Prosecutor Terry Curry and Sheriff John Layton, who are both entering their second terms in office.

They were joined by two newcomers, Kate Sweeney Bell, who is the new County Recorder, and County Clerk Myla Eldridge, who thanked the late Julia Carson and others for paving the way for her.

“To stand right here today on this stage,” she said, “as the first African American Marion County Clerk.”

When asked if she feels like a pioneer, Eldridge said, “Yes, I do feel like a pioneer and somewhat a trailblazer.”

A number of township elected officials also took the oath of office at the morning ceremony.

Mistaken releases dominate debate in the Sheriff’s race

November 3rd, 2014 at 4:50 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

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.

Mistaken inmate release sparks war of words in Sheriff’s race

August 8th, 2014 at 2:41 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Marion County Sheriff John Layton is under fire again for releasing jail inmates by mistake.  Layton’s opponent in the November election, Republican Emmitt Carney, says the sheriff, who is a Democrat, is incompetent.

Layton responded by calling Carney a liar because, he says, Carney is distributing false information.

Behind the war of words is the release and subsequent capture of Scott Anthony Snyder who was set free on Tuesday, captured and returned to the jail on Thursday.

Carney says Ashley Dumas was released by mistake in May but the sheriff’s department says she was free to go and is now wanted on a new warrant issued in June.

“Somebody’s continuing to let this happen over and over again,” said Carney. “The first time, second time, ok, but the 8th time?  Somebody’s not doing their job.”

Carney charges that 8 people have been mistakenly released this year but the sheriff’s department says the accurate number is 6.

“When is somebody gonna step up and have total acceptance of responsibility that this happened on my watch,” he said, “and we gotta make some changes?”

Sheriff Layton was unavailable for an interview but in a brief phone conversation said that Carney doesn’t understand how things work in the jail.

“I have to say that the error rate for our inmate records section is less than 1/1000th of 1 percent,” said jail spokesman Louis Dezelan.  “They’re reviewing all of this information day in and day out 24 hours a day and this individual should not have been released but he was.”

Carney says this still isn’t the biggest issue in the race for Sheriff but, so far, it’s the one that has gained him the most publicity.

Accidental release becomes an issue in the race for Marion County Sheriff

June 20th, 2014 at 4:39 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The computer mix up that led to the release of two Marion County Jail inmates is the latest in a series of problems inside the jail that are campaign fodder for the Republicans.

Sheriff John Layton is a Democrat who is running for a second term.   He can expect Republican Emmitt Carney to tell voters that the Sheriff’s Department is on the decline and this is just one example.

The sign hanging outside the Marion County Jail says it houses one of the top 1% of Sheriff’s Departments in the country.  It doesn’t mention problems in the jail that include not just mistaken release but also rape, and employee misconduct.

So Republican candidate Emmitt Carney points to this week’s release of Chester Irons and Ronald Johnson as an example of the sort of thing he wants voters to know about.

“The issue’s out there,” said Carney.  “I didn’t make it an issue but this.. the public information.. and I think the citizens need to know what’s going on or what’s not going on.”

Sheriff John Layton says he will run on experience and when he overcame a primary challenge in May he expressed confidence about his matchup with Carney.

“The people have seen the job that I’ve done for the last four years,” he said, “and they’re ready for four more of it.”

But when Republicans look at the jail they see opportunity.

“I think it’s clearly mismanaged,” said Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker. “There is no other way to look at a systemic problem like this and blame it on anything other than poor management.”

Layton was out of town unavailable for comment today, yet he remains a clear favorite in the Sheriff’s race for a variety of reasons.  They include the fact that he’s an incumbent, this is a Democratic County, and Emmitt Carney is a first-time candidate.

But Layton needs to avoid more problems in the jail or this could quickly become a contested race.

Ballard, Kennedy, Campaign Down to the Wire

November 7th, 2011 at 6:07 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Early voting in Indianapolis has come to a close with the total number of early votes last year, from 10,000 down to not quite 9,000.

Republican Greg Ballard has led this race from the beginning and he led in the WISH-TV/Franklin College Poll.  But Democrats have a big advantage in Indianapolis.  Now it’s a question of which party does the best job of getting voters to the polls.

At a south side restaurant, one of numerous stops today, Melina Kennedy greeted voters alongside Sheriff John Layton and the biggest name in Indiana Democratic politics, Evan Bayh.  The former Senator also helped arrange recorded phone messages to voters from former President Bill Clinton.  When asked if his goal was to energize Democrats, Bayh said, “Oh, I think that’s right.  If you look at the election four years ago turnout was very, very low which is unfortunate because mayor is an important job.”

“They need to get out and vote,” he said.

“He brings a good perspective on small businesses, job creation, I’m proud to have his support,” said Kennedy of Bayh, emphasizing her top themes at the end of the campaign.

Meantime, on the north side, Greg Ballard volunteers took over Dick Lugar phone bank for the day replacing phone messages from Rudy Guiliani sent out over the weekend and Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman showed up along with the mayor to provide encouragement.  “When he (Ballard) was elected four years ago he had a lot to prove but I think he’s done that,” said Skillman.  “Here you have a guy who gets it.”

Ask Ballard how he feels and he says. “Pretty good right now, pretty good.”  But there is no backing off because even Democrats who lost statewide races last year carried Marion County easily.  “So, it’s important for us to bring all the resources to bear to make sure that the city continues to move forward,” says Ballard.

Meantime Melina Kennedy is not giving up.  “And I’m just continuing to talk to voters about tomorrow,” she says.

The finish line is 24 hours away.

Layton Campaign Ad Challenged

October 13th, 2010 at 4:56 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Republicans have filed an ethics complaint against John Layton, the Democratic candidate for Marion County Sheriff. 

It has to do with a campaign commercial. The ad for John Layton started airing this week and the Republicans want it taken off the air. They say it was created illegally. They even shot undercover video of the production that makes use of uniformed sheriff’s deputies and marked police cars.

Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John says that violates a new city ethics ordinance passed in 2008. It prohibits the use of county resources for political activity. “We clearly have uniformed officers with actual operating sheriff’s department cars that have been used in a campaign ad” says John. “This is against all of the city’s ethics ordinance. We’re supposed to take politics out.”

Tom John says that the ad is an argument for change in the Sheriff’s office where Democrat Frank Anderson now serves. A spokesman for the Marion County Democratic Party, meantime, says the Layton ad will remain on the air.

The Republican running for Sheriff, Dennis Fishburn, will begin airing television ads tomorrow.