Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 4, 2014

Voter's guide: Miami County candidates

From staff reports

— Tim Spahr, Republican incumbent, Circuit Court Judge

Age: 41

City of residence: Peru

Occupation: Judge

Family: Spahr is married to Marcet and they have two children, Anastasia and John.

Qualifications: Spahr currently serves as judge of the Miami Circuit Court and he has more than 15 years experience in many areas of the law as an attorney. He graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington with a Bachelor of Science degree in music and history in 1994 and with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1997. Spahr is a member of the Indiana Judges Association, Indiana Judicial Administration Committee, Indiana State Bar Association, Miami County Bar Association, Miami County Community Corrections Advisory Board, Miami County Substance Abuse Prevention Council and chairman of the Miami County Courthouse Security Committee.

Goals: “Courthouse security. It is my hope that the work of the Miami County Courthouse Security Committee will lead to improvements in security that will increase the safety of the citizens who go to the courthouse and those who work there.”

David Grund, Republican incumbent, Superior Court I Judge

Age: 43

City of residence: Peru

Occupation: Judge

Family: Grund is married to Shawna and has two daughters, Mallori, 10, and Maci, 7.

Qualifications: Grund has served more than five years as judge; he also served as chief deputy and deputy prosecutor in Miami County, and operated a private law practice for more than 10 years while serving as the Miami County attorney.

Goals: “I want to continue to assure that each citizen that enters my courtroom receives an opportunity to be fully and completely heard, to voice their opinion and to receive a fair decision based upon the law in the state of Indiana, along with understanding why the decision was made prior to leaving the courtroom.”

Bruce C. Embrey, Republican incumbent, Prosecuting Attorney

Age: 70

City of residence: Peru    

Occupation: Prosecuting Attorney

Family: Embrey’s wife is Cheryl and their children are Brent, Reid and Shannon (Correll). They have five grandchildren.

Qualifications: Embrey has served one term as prosecuting attorney. Previously he spent 26 years as a judge, eight years in private practice, served as attorney for the city of Peru and utilities for four years, and as a part-time public defender.

Goals: “My goal remains to prosecute and remove from the community those who are a danger to the community and to attempt to help those who are not dangerous to the community. The criminal code that will go into effect on July 1 of this year requires us to keep misdemeanants and those who commit low-level, non-violent felonies in the community for rehabilitation and treatment. Developing and funding programs to accomplish that worthwhile goal will be a challenge for the next few years.

Tawna Leffel-Sands, Republican incumbent, Clerk of Courts

Age: 50

City of residence: Peru

Occupation: Miami County Clerk of Courts

Family: Leffel-Sands is married to Christian Sands, and has two children, Zachary Leffel, 24, and Nicholas Leffel, 22.

Qualifications: She has served as clerk of the courts in Miami County for nearly 3-and-a-half years. She served under Judge Embrey, Judge Banina and Judge Burke in the capacity of court administrator, court bailiff and court reporter, worked as a legal secretary for 10 years.

Goals: “I am still working on cross-training within the office. We have come a long way, but it remains a goal of mine to be able to have myself, along with one or two others, know the ins and outs of each position within this office.”

Gregg Wilkinson, Republican incumbent, Surveyor

Age: 62

City of residence: Peru

Occupation: Miami County Surveyor

Family: Wilkinson is married to wife, Pauletta and has one daughter, Heather, and a son, Justin.

Qualifications: Associates degree in horticulture, has served four years as surveyor

Goals: “The main issue is to maintain older legal drains. They haven’t been maintained in the last few years, and they have been put on the assessment. We also need to clean out the ditches.”

Sara Lea McAuliffe, Republican incumbent, Assessor

 Age: 65

City of residence: Macy

Occupation: Miami County Assessor

Family: Husband Steve McAuliffe, and two daughters, Tammy and Terri

Qualifications: Worked in the Miami County Assessor’s Office since January 1999 and served as county assessor since 2011.

Goals: “I have implemented a lot of changes already, such as doing the trending each year ourselves, as well as we will be doing reassessment with little outside consulting. This was all being bid out to an outside vendor until 2012.”

Timothy G. Miller, Republican incumbent, Miami County Sheriff

Age: 55

City of residence: Rural Bunker Hill

Occupation: Miami County Sheriff

Family: Wife of 34 years, Mary, one daughter, Stephanie, one son, Zach, and two grandchildren

Qualifications:  Miller served in the Air Force Reserves as a security police specialist, worked as road trooper, detective and sergeant for Indiana State Police Peru Post from 1985 to 2010, attended the Indiana State Police Superintendents Command College and the F.B.I. Hostage/Crisis Negotiator School and owned a local business.

Goals: “One of the issues we face is that on July 1, 2014, the Indiana Criminal Code will change significantly. Indications are that in the next few years, county jails will see a marked increase in the number of sentenced inmates serving their time in the counties in which they committed their crimes instead of being sent to the Department of Corrections. The Miami County Sheriff’s Office will work to adapt to the new enforcement standards for our road deputies and the anticipated increase in inmate population for our jail division.”

James White Jr., Democrat challenger, Miami County Sheriff

Age: 31

City of residence: Peru

Occupation: Currently no occupation

Family: Single, has one daughter and one son.

Qualifications: White completed college course work in criminal justice at Kaplan University and served as an Indiana Guard reservist from 2000 to 2010.

Goals: “Public safety is my main concern. I want to make sure the people in my community and county are protected and safe.”

Josh Francis, Republican incumbent, Miami County Commissioner 3rd District

Age: 37

City of residence: Denver

Occupation: Administrator at the Peru Moose Lodge

Family: Wife, Serena, son, Cody, 13, and daughter, Gabby, 8

Qualifications: Francis has served more than three years as commissioner. He received a bachelor’s degree in business from Purdue University.

Goals: “The biggest thing is job creation. We’re trying to create an environment that makes businesses want to come here. That includes getting the people here to buy into that idea and have a positive attitude about economic development.”

Richard G. Wood, Republican uncontested candidate, County Council 1st District

Age: 69

City of residence: Bunker Hill

Occupation: Retired from Delphi, farmer

Family: Wood has been married to his wife Vickie Wood for 48 years. He has three daughters, Tammy Gooch, Annette Jones, and Jenny Marshall and six grandchildren.

Qualifications: Wood is past president and member of Maconaquah School Board and served on Miami County Junior Leaders.

Goals: “I hope to contribute to the growth and fiscal well being of the county. I want to improve the communications between county boards, employees and the public. I would find it a privilege to be able to represent all stakeholders of Miami County.”

Ralph Duckwall II, Republican incumbent, County Council 2nd District

Age: 61

City of residence: rural Peru area

Occupation: Insurance and investments

Family: Wife, Leigh; sons, Ralph and wife, Melissa, and Charles; daughter, Shauna and husband, Alex; and six grandchildren

Qualifications: Duckwall was educated in agriculture economics and has a career in finance, plus seven years’ experience on the county council.

Goals: “Keeping our taxes as modest as possible while maintaining services needed in our county.”

Dick Wiles, Democrat incumbent, County Council 3rd District

Age: 72

City of residence: Peru

Occupation: Retired

Family: Wife of 53 years, Juanita; and three daughters, Deborah, Pamela and Kimberly.

Qualifications: Served five years as Peru fire chief, four years on the Peru City Council, and eight years on county council.

Goals: “It’s difficult to name one issue to work on because money is so limited, and we’re not able to do the things we need to do. Working with the Miami County Economic Development Authority is helpful in researching new prospects; also, being involved with the Regional Planning Committee so we can work together with the surrounding counties to help each other progress.”

Ethan Manning, Republican uncontested candidate, County Council 4th District

Age: 22

City of residence: Macy

Occupation: Farmer, auctioneer

Family: Single, no children

Qualifications: Manning is the Miami County GOP Chairman and has worked on local political campaigns in Fort Wayne.

Goals: “Economic development. We need to make sure to keep our CEDIT funds built up in case a big project comes along, and continue to support the Miami County Economic Development Authority. We also need to focus on community development, and make sure we have a thriving culture so we can attract the kinds of businesses we’d like to see.”