muncie city elections

Insiders & Outsiders – Race for Mayor

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inside outside

We are just weeks away from the primary and it looks to be ramping up.  Early voting has begun and some of us have done the deed.  Others are still undecided.

Today, we’re going to talk about the Democrat mayoral candidates.  They have five on the ticket.     A current city employee, former law enforcement officer, businessman, perennial candidate and one citizen (not sure of his occupation).

The BSU Democrat student organization sponsored their debate.  Hats off to the students for their hard work.  Below is the audio of the debate.

April 9, 2019, Democrat Debate

If you want to get a well-rounded view of the election, we would recommend you listen to all the candidates.  This is often a political blog,  and in case you didn’t know, there is an election on the horizon.  We follow all of the candidates.  We visit social media to get our fingers on the pulse of citizens’ thoughts on the candidates.  We carry on conversations with the people and sometimes we even interact with the candidates.   If they have a history, we review it, too.

After introductions, the candidates went into corruption.  Oh, boy, do we have it.  How many of those candidates voted for Dennis Tyler?  How many knew the history of Tyler and his cohort Nichols and still chose to place the corruption in the main seat of Muncie governance?    Until they need your vote, they stand silently by.  The opportunity was there in 2015 to get the city under control. That primary saw only two city council districts up for grabs.  District  2 (R) Conatser vs. Ridenour and District 6 (D) Anderson vs. Ivy.   Both parties fell short that year.  The corruption was just beginning to come to light.  It was going to be messy.  Thoughts on the lack of candidates…for another time.

Just a brief history.  In 2003, Dennis Tyler ran for mayor.  One of the biggest concerns was how much involvement would Phil Nichols have in Tyler’s administration?  Tyler said none.   However, after Tyler lost it was believed he and Nichols joined forces and set their sights on dismantling Center Township Fire Department and behind manipulating the 911 call center.    Some of the old-timers would remember. Not unlike what we are seeing from the Tyler administration today.  A leopard doesn’t change its spots.

Tyler and Nichols have been joined at the hip since birth.   In 2012 Tyler immediately appointed Craig Nichols as the Building Commissioner.  Well, we know the rest of the story.  Phil Nichols was privy to the private meetings with Mayor Tyler and others as they schemed to hide the crimes committed.

Oops, I digress…

One area of this debate centered on blight.  The interesting part of this is the previous mayor, Sharon McShurley, also campaigned on the blight.  She addressed the blight head on, looking for monies and the newspaper did “Blight Watch” keeping the people informed of the status and the challenges of the blighted community.    That all ended when Tyler took office. Why?

We wrote about the Hardest Hit Fund program.  When Muncie received notice we were selected, the city sat on the funds.  Mayor Tyler claimed the requirements were so stringent the city had a hard time implementing it.  Most of us believe Tyler was trying to find a way to funnel the monies to Nichols’ companies, et al.  Other communities were well into the program demolishing properties, and Muncie was not.  Everyone was on a level playing field yet Tyler’s administration just couldn’t get the program going.  Hmmmm.

That being said, here is our synopsis of the candidates:

Dale: Maybe the best of the bunch if being well spoken was a prerequisite for mayor.  He was involved in city government during the McShurly administration.  Not sure if he continued the same involvement under the Tyler administration.  He was part of the UNISON group which wanted to engage Commissioner President Todd Donati and the Commissioners as part of the Tuhey Pool plan in 2010.   Fortunately, that went nowhere.  Would he continue the MRC with Donati as president?

D. Smith: Focused on corruption.  Yes, this administration is filled with corruption and there are two Tyler appointed department heads on the ballot.  The first step in ridding the city of corruption would be to never place any person affiliated with Tyler in a position of power.   Mayor or council both would still be governed from 214 N. Walnut.

Bailey: Appointed to the Community Development office by Tyler.  In charge of the Hardest Hit Funds.  Consider looking at Larry Riley’s FB post and at the State Board of Accounts audits. Bailey said she did the duties of the deputy mayor with no added pay.   Bailey is the only mayoral candidate that has a history with the current administration and would be privy to the inner workings of this administration.

Riley: Saul is someone you would like as a neighbor, but not for mayor.

Davenport:  Was vacationing in Urbana, Il and couldn’t make the debate.  (just kiddin’)

In closing:  Not much dialog on the current public safety issues or how they would address the issue once in office.  No mention of the debt.  Or how they would improve upon the paving.   Candidates are fluffy nowadays.  They have lots of words but no concrete solutions.



Democrats Pledge a Clean Campaign and Why I Believe it is a Crock of Moldy Butter

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So, the local Democrat Party decided to run a clean campaign.  I just love an election year, don’t you?  First, let me say this, I don’t believe for a minute the local Democrat Party has any intention of running a clean campaign.  I do believe Dennis Tyler is “Imagining the possibilities of working together” with his local party loyalists, though.

Let’s taks a short trip down memory lane and look at some examples of “Working together”.

Shirey has the political misfortune to occupy a seat that has been targeted by commissioners and their Democratic advisers, current party Chairman Dennis Tyler and past Chairman Phil Nichols . While Shirey might see the trustee’s office as an opportunity to help people and to move the community forward, Democrats see it as a prime outlet for political patronage and a vote-buying attraction for poor-relief clients.

With that in mind, they took their first shot at Shirey during last month’s county fair. They publicly criticized him for putting trustee business cards on parked cars at the fairgrounds — during Republican Night at the fair. Shirey’s cards had nothing to do with encouraging votes, other than to suggest (with a nod toward the local scene) that people who fail to get involved in politics are destined to be ‘governed by their inferiors.’  August 2002 Star press

Oh, by the way, Dennis Tyler was the Democrat running in 2003 for mayor, and then like now, he is trying to play down partisian politics.  Always promising, and never producing.

Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Tyler might distance himself from the Democratic Central Committee if he runs for mayor.

Tyler, a Muncie fire captain, said he might name a director of the central committee to play down partisanship with his campaign — if he runs for mayor.

Continuing on in the 2003 race for Muncie mayor, we find another interesting Democrat figure making a bid.  This is what was reported in the newspaper in February 2003.  You may find some similarities in this primary to other primaries if you look hard enough.

The all-important top of the ballot was claimed last week in the Democratic primary for Muncie mayor.

However, restaurant and bar owner Lewis Coulter does not believe he will hold the top spot for long.

Coulter, who ran for mayor in 1999, recalled how a truck driver named Bex also filed for the Democratic nomination for mayor that year. Bex bumped Coulter out of the top spot, and never campaigned.

 Coulter expected another candidate with a last name beginning with an A or B would show up on the ballot this week. The filing deadline for the May 6 primary election is noon Friday.

In 2011, the Democrats took a little different approach to alphabatizing the primary ballot.  This time, they placed one of their own, Nora Powell, at the top spot.   But, I digress.

Still, another candidate for mayor, Chuck Leonard, had some problems with his campaign, too.  It seems all of his campaign materials kept falling from the window of Democrat Headquarters.  Perhaps the headquarters should invest in tape with more sticking power.  Nevertheless, Chuck took all his campaign parphanelia and with his campain manager, Jerry Thornburg, headed down to visit, none other than Dennis Tyler.

‘I feel it is the responsibility of headquarters to make sure that all Democrats have a level playing field,’ Leonard said.

Tyler, who stepped down as county Democratic chairman to run for mayor, told Side Remarks he had nothing to do with Leonard’s signs falling down from the window.

Thornburg reminded Tyler that he had promised a level playing field when he became chairman after the 1999 city election.

Harold Mason running against Monte Murphy was denied election materials, including poll books.  Some barbs were thrown Mr. Mason’s way and his campaign manager said the Democrat party needed to be more inclusive.  The primary election netted 486 abstentee votes that year (neary 1/3 of the registered voters.  Mason lost by a mere 136 votes.  Murphy was later indicted and found guilty of voter fraud.   Absentee votes declined after the investigation began, probably just a coincidence.

Imagine the possibilities when we work together…..

2004 saw a decent campaign season.  Tracy Barton and Tom Bennington sparred a bit.  But this is what I found interesting in the race between John Brooke and Bob Wilson.  Civility and a gentelmanly campaign.  Here is what these two guys had to say.

‘I can’t speak for John, but I made a promise for myself I was going to stick to the issues, present a positive image and let the people decide,” Wilson said.

‘I don’t think either Bob or myself generally view politics as something you have to sling a lot of mud,” Brooke said. ‘Maybe the fact that we’re first-time candidates might also add to our naivety.”

Asked about the worst that could happen if Brooke was elected, Wilson replied, ‘With all the traveling that he does [representing clients as an attorney for the fireworks industry], I’m afraid that he might be an absentee commissioner, and this is not the time to have absentee commissioners with all the problems we have.”

In answering the same question about Wilson, Brooke said, ‘The worst that can happen is that both Republicans and Democrats continue to be polarized against each other and don’t want to work together to get something accomplished.”

John Brooke won that race.  We will read more about Mr. Brooke later.

2007 saw little action in the primaries.  So, let’s move on to 2008.

John Brooke, Democrat Commissioner elected in 2004, began to work accross party lines.    That was his down fall in the eyes of the Democrat party.  So, party leadership took to discrediting Brooke and in his own defense Brooke penned a letter to the precint committeemen. 

Brooke was reluctant to talk about difficulties between him and Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Tyler when contacted Friday.

In late March, Brooke wrote a letter to local Democratic Party precinct committeemen. Committeemen in the county’s precincts form the central committee of local political parties and have the power to name the party’s chairman.

In his letter, Brooke noted that former Democratic Party Chairman Phil Nichols had — in a recent public forum — ‘raised certain questions about my involvement in the commissioners office.”

Brooke wrote that he took ‘great offense” at Nichols’s comment that Brooke was not a ‘true Democrat” and had been ‘going to the press” to talk about government and politics.

‘Mr. Nichols has no basis to question my party loyalty and affiliation,” Brooke wrote.

Brooke said he believed that county residents wanted ‘leaders that can solve problems and work with other elected officials.”

Neither Tyler nor Nichols could be reached for comment Friday. Tyler did not return a message left for him at party headquarters.  April 2005, Star Press

  Don Dunnuck, party insider announced his bid to run against Brooke.

County Democratic Party Chairman Margie Landers introduced Dunnuck to a group of supporters as “my man.”

Without mentioning Brooke by name, Dunnuck spoke out against Democrats who “follow their own dictates,” stay away from party headquarters and don’t stay grounded in party politics.

“When we’re elected, we need to act like Democrats,” Dunnuck said.

Dunnuck declined to comment afterward on whether his words were focused on his opponent.  February 2008 Star Press

Just like Coulter and Bex, the Democrats recruited Bilbrey to run in the race with Brooke and Dunnuck.   Brooke lost.  2008 was an ugly election year.  With the Democrat party working against Democrat candidates Tom Canon and Linda Wolf.  They won.

Imagine the possibilities when we work together…..

In 2010, it is widely believed, the Democrats fielded several unknown people to run on the Republican ticket.  Ghost candidates, if you will.  I believe the Democrats were worried voters, possibly Republicans and Democrats and Independants would cast a vote for Democrats not supported by the Democrat leadership.  

There was no love loss between party leadership and Larry Bledose, and the Democrats clearly showed their choice was another Democrat insider, Bill Smith.  Larry’s downfall, like Brooke, was to work for the citizens and not the party.  It was a clean sweep of Team Democrat candidates.

2010 primary election night was a nightmare for the losing party favored candidates.  But, instead of embracing the winning canidates and preparing for the fall election, they chose instead to enter a public on-line forum and proceded to trash the Democrat winners.  People tend to follow the dictates of their leaders.  As the leadership goes, so goes the supporters. 

2011 Dennis Tyler faced with being in the minority runs off to Urbana for five weeks while his campaign slogan “Imagine the possibilies when we work together” grows mold.

I have just given you a few examples, as any more would talke a small book to write.  But anyway, this is why I don’t believe for one minute the Democrat leadership is all that serious about a clean campaign or promises of working together and giving volume to your voice.

I hope the voters are paying attention.

Had enough?

Vote informed.