West Lafayette Police Chief Jason Dombkowski is one step closer to holding the highest law enforcement position in Tippecanoe County.
Dombkowski easily defeated incumbent Sheriff Barry Richard and Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant John “Woody” Ricks Tuesday night, garnering almost 50-percent of the vote.
Dombkowski says he believes the specific issues he outlined in his campaign inspired residents to go to the polls.
“I think it was important to have a plan, and to talk about that plan,” Dombkowski says. “I know that some of that plan resonated with the voters of Tippecanoe County.”
Dombkowski has been outspoken about beefing up drug and sex crime task forces, as well as the implementation of a jail-based addiction treatment program.
He calls the results of the primary – which, like many others this cycle, had its share of personal attacks -- “overwhelming, but very humbling.”
“Sheriff Richard and Lt. Ricks are both honorable public servants and I look forward to working with them in the near future here, as we move on past this election,” Dombkowski says.
The victory comes despite controversy over Dombkowski’s use of a government-issued cell phone to make campaign-related calls. Hours before the election results were announced, the county Election Board declined to investigate the complaint, even though Dombkowski has admitted the wrongdoing.
No Democratic candidate for sheriff has been named.
Tippecanoe County prosecutor Pat Harrington Tuesday earned 57-percent of the primary election’s final vote tally, defeating his opponent, Lafayette lawyer Earl McCoy, by more than 2,000 votes.
During the lead-up to the primary, Harrington characterized McCoy as a liar, while McCoy painted Harrington as a career politician. McCoy also underlined high staff turnover and low prosecution rates at the prosecutor’s office, charges Harrington refuted again following his win.
“Social media has hit local politics,” Harrington says. “People start something on the social media site, and it gets picked up, and all of a sudden a really good lie is more appealing than the honest truth.”
Harrington, currently in his third term as prosecutor, says he hopes to continue his work combatting drug issues in Tippecanoe County. Both he and sheriff candidate Jason Dombkowski have proposed treating drug users in jail after arresting them.
“We'll tweak some things. We're always changing the technology and vest camera and digital evidence,” Harrington says. “There's always those challenges you have to keep up with, and that's what we do. We just try to stay with that learning curve.”
Harrington is currently without a challenger in the general election.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Tippecanoe County Election Board rejected a motion to send Harrington an issue regarding Dombkowski, who’s admitted illegally using his city-issued phone for campaign-related business.