SIDNEY – Two candidates, James R. Frye and Mark Jordan, are seeking the Republican nomination for Shelby County sheriff in the March 17 primary election.
Both men are vying to replace Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, whose second stint as sheriff expires on Dec. 31.
Jordan is the CEO of Bluecrest Electronics, a sergeant with the Botkins Police Department and a deputy with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. He is a 1982 graduate of Sidney High School and attended Wilmington College and Xavier University.
The 55-year-old Jordan is engaged to Lori Werling. He has a son, Parker Jordan; daughter-in-law, Diane Jordan; and two daughters, Heather Werling and Tabitha Werling. His grandchildren are Averi Grace, Braxton, Zenna and one more is due this week.
Frye, the chief deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, also is a Sidney High School graduate. He attended United States Marine Corps basic training in Paris Island, South Carolina, the Military Police Academy at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama, and military police in-service training at Camp Elmore in Norfolk, Virginia.
The 59-year-old Frye is married to his wife, Lori A. Stewart Frye, and they combined have seven children and four grandchildren.
For more information about Frye, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Fryeforshelbycountysheriff.
Each candidate was asked the same questions about his qualifications and why he is running for Shelby County sheriff. The following is the questions and their answers with responses alternating on each question.
Why do you think you are the best candidate for the position of Shelby County sheriff?
Frye: I am the best candidate for Shelby County Sheriff, my 38 years of full-time law enforcement experience, with the last 11 years working directly at the Sheriff’s Office. I understand the laws and responsibilities of a Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Office. I lead from the front and the success of a good leader is measured by the support of the people I lead. My leadership skills have been tried and tested and I have the insight and know how to run the Sheriff’s Office. I am the best person for the job, based on my experience, education, accomplishments and background.
Jordan: Honest, Integrity, Transparency, and Accountability are at my core. I will address issues such as inmates deaths, partnering with other agencies, mishandled 911 calls, and more. I oppose the DeWine Strong Ohio gun bill and any other proposed “Red Flag” gun law. I’ve run private sector information technology companies, managed a 10 million dollar budget, managed 60+ employees using REAL professional management education and training. So couple my 30+ years as a sworn law enforcement officer with my 20+ year career as a CEO and you have an opportunity to elect someone who has more relevant experience than his opponent.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Sheriff’s Office?
Jordan: Drug and alcohol addiction are the most serious challenges all communities face. It often leads to personal destruction, theft of property, injury to others, and family destruction. The biggest internal challenge is recruiting and retention. Law Enforcement is a difficult job with huge responsibilities and potential personal risks. With low unemployment numbers and the negative media attention it has become harder to find good qualified young men and women to fill the ranks. We will make it a priority to provide training and advancement opportunities for our employees while doing a better job screening and recruiting potential employees.
Frye: The biggest challenges facing the Sheriff’s Office is the drug epidemic, mental health in the jail and continuing to strive to decrease the recidivism rate of inmates. With the support of our Commissioner’s, we have made several improvements to our jail. The jail is over 25 years old and upkeep is necessary for continued safety for the staff and inmates. Keep updating programs dealing with inmate’s addiction, mental health, and education.
What efforts should be taken to protect inmates at the Shelby County Jail?
Frye: We purchased a full body scanner to scan all inmates coming into the jail to identify subjects trying to bring contraband in. We have 181 Bureau of Adult Detention standards, along with Federal compliance standards, by following these standards, we decrease the number of incidents we have in the jail. We are required to physically check every inmate once every 60 minutes, we increased those physical checks to once every 30 minutes, therefore, having more contact with the inmates will produce a safer facility. In 2009 our average daily population was 70, our A.D.P. now averages above 170.
Jordan: Over the last 8-1/2 years four inmates have died, in the prior 17 years zero have died. Inmates are still showing up at the E.R. with injuries from fighting. I ask, “What’s changed?”. Allowing vaping in jail, take out pizza for inmates, and many other things. We will do a top to bottom review to create a comprehensive plan that will detail our findings and actions with transparency. We must provide for the welfare, safety, and security of all our inmates.
How will you improve relationships with the Sidney Police Department, village police departments and other agencies?
Jordan: It all starts with communications. I don’t have the baggage of the past. I already have very good working relationships with other agencies. Some examples are attending training sessions with Sidney PD and OSP, attending graduation/retirement events, and attending the Shelby County Chiefs Association meetings. I will also build an exchange program that is similar to a student exchange program. This will allow other agencies the opportunity to come see how we do business, and vice versa. This will be a great learning experience for all involved.
Frye: We have always made sure that we have provided whatever services an agency may need; I will work with other agencies and have done so for 38 years. I have provided information on criminal matters, have assisted other agencies as a K-9 handler, evidence technician, and conducted interrogations. As I have in the past, I will continue to work closely and provide whatever services we have to other agencies. If there is an agency that feels we don’t work with them, then I will reach out and have a meeting to resolve whatever issues they feel needs addressed.
Would you make any staffing changes at the Sheriff’s Office or restructure personnel?
Frye: Once I am elected Sheriff, I will look at our staffing levels in all areas of the Sheriff’s Office and at that time, if changes are needed, we will make the appropriate changes. I will make sure that the right personnel are in the right positions, and when the time comes, I will have a plan in place for my successor.
Jordan: Unlike my opponent who stated that he would not have a Chief Deputy, I would keep the same structure but will change the command staff. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has excellent men and women that are dedicated to their jobs and serving the citizens of Shelby County. It’s time for a change in leadership to better serve the public.
Do you anticipate using emergency levels during weather events?
Jordan: No. I believe the residents and travelers in our county can make their own decisions regarding inclement weather travel. I do invite you learn more about the Jordan for Sheriff campaign at http://www.votejordansheriff.com website.
Frye: I do not believe any Shelby County Sheriff has ever used emergency levels. We have a large industrial base and I will not impede their decisions to stay open or close. We will do the same things we do with the schools; we will notify and make them aware of the road conditions. We will remain consistent and make sure we are providing the correct information for business to make informed decision for the safety of their employee’s. The people of Shelby County do not need the government to tell them when to drive or not to drive.
Mass shootings and school shootings have continued across the United States even with increased diligence by school officials and law enforcement. How will you protect Shelby County residents and students against a mass shooting?
Frye: We will continue to support all our County and City schools, with constant training and updated training as it is deemed necessary. I will continue to provide school resource officers to those schools requesting them. We will also continue to provide safety officers to the Sidney elementary schools. We, along with the schools have made it our number one priority of protecting our children and we will continue to do so.
At our County’s largest event or at our smallest, we will continue to work closely with those venues, ensuring we provided them with the resources they need to keep the people attending their event safe.
Jordan: I will continue to support all the School Systems with resource officers and support the Sidney Board of Educations armed teacher program. We will, however, bring together local police departments and include them in the details of response protocols and Emergency Operation Plans. Together we can do more.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jordan: I am a life-long Republican. While being a member of a specific political party isn’t as significant for a Sheriff as it may be for other elected officials, it IS important that the candidate you choose demonstrates a life-long commitment to their beliefs. I’ve held steadfast to the ideals that my party represents. My opponent switched his affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2012. As the authority responsible for upholding the laws, don’t you want to vote for the candidate who has demonstrated the ability to commit to a set of values for a lifetime?
Frye: I will continue to serve the Citizens, just as I have for the past 38 years. I will ensure and continue to provide a professional law enforcement agency that all should expect. We will continue to be transparent and provide a professional law enforcement agency. Having been elected to two terms as a Jackson Center Council member, I understand the workings of a municipality and will help those incorporated areas of the County with whatever services they may need. I would like to thank the citizens of Shelby County and ask for your support on March 17, 2020.
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