Archive | October, 2014

Student Candidate Hopes for Change

31 Oct

Jose Mejia, Ivy Tech student, is running for Perry township constable.

What is a constable? What are the duties of a constable?

For all intents and purposes, the elected constable of a township is a law enforcement officer with official responsibilities within the township small claims court. I included the statutory code to illustrate all that is legally required of the constable. I feel as though the constable can do much more to actually help the public within a law enforcement role. I will discuss this in questions 3 & 6.

How will your studies at Ivy Tech Community College help you in your future position?

The college and its staff have been phenomenal at preparing me for this position. This semester I’m taking ‘Introduction to Courts” and “Criminal Law” with Professor Hanson, a former deputy prosecutor. Her knowledge of the court system is invaluable to students such as myself, though I’m sure students that haven’t quite figured out their career path could also benefit greatly. Classes like these have fine-tuned my own knowledge of the court system, strengthening my confidence when speaking with constituents and people in the political world. Every professor I’ve had has been a great source of knowledge and motivation. I hope to have half the credentials and accomplishments that professors I’ve studied under have-professors like Mrs. Hanson and Mr. John Payne.

What made you make the decision to run for constable?

I made the decision to run for Perry Township Constable because I feel more can be done in our township to stop crime and improve police/government/community relationships. It pains me to see the current stigmas the public has with law enforcement; blanketing all officers with the small percentage of police that stray from their oaths. The public perception of law enforcement needs to change to show that our law enforcement is definitely on our side. I know that being elected into this position while bringing the right attitude and ideas will accomplish that and more.

What is your favorite part of the campaign thus far?

My favorite part of the campaign so far is the learning experience. You learn from many different points of view, policies, laws, morals, ethics, religions, and yes, even politicians! I suppose you could also say that learning all of this, puts township government in perspective.

Have you held any political positions before this campaign?

I have not held previous political positions, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. More often than not, politicians develop negative biases and habits when working with their constituents, depending on the position they hold. I can promise you that I will not succumb to a “business as usual mentality.” My absolute priority will always be the safety and well-being of our residents.

As constable what changes will you make to better the safety of Perry Township?

Included above was the statute stipulating the ‘minimum’ responsibilities of the constable and frankly, that’s what our township is getting-the bare minimum. I definitely want to put this office on the map. The current operations of the incumbent seem to be low-key and as a public official, you should be as transparent as possible. In the past, a former constable, ran an absurdly corrupt operation. Constable Roy Houchins would sell badges of authority to whomever had his fee. It is important to note that the current constable has not been accused of anything like this, but it is necessary to understand and know the history of the office. Likewise, very recently, a Center Township Deputy Constable was caught putting invalid police license plates on a vehicle bought for use outside the scope of the Constable’s office duties. The vehicle was also bought using public funds for private use. These are samples of things you will absolutely never get with my administration.

As far as the sheer safety issues of the township, I have already announced that I am starting a Perry Township newsletter, which will be an unofficial (ran outside the scope and parameters of the Constable’s Office) public forum that will have all township crime rates, fugitives of justice, tips for safety, verified criminal incidents, and overall concerns of the people. I project that the newsletter will grow to have more functions and features that will keep people more knowledgeable of problems. I hope to keep this funded separately from the office and thus, out of the township’s general fund. Doing this will keep tax dollars in their proper accounts.

I would also form a group of community leaders that will inform town halls, and my office, on issues of crime and safety. These leaders will be taken as volunteers from their respected communities.

We are currently in the process of getting funds together to fully sponsor kids in rough neighborhoods; sending them to Ivy Tech. We would offer this help to the youth who commit to bettering themselves, their communities, and resisting drug-use and gang activity. I want to emphasize that being elected is not a condition of coordinating this effort; the funds will be collected through myself, private donors and organizations, thus, not a use of public funds. I believe offering a better choice to the youth is extremely beneficial to everyone; this can make or break a city’s crime rates because the future is always in the hands of our youth.

How has/is being a student at Ivy Tech effected your campaign?

Actually being a student at Ivy Tech has made it easier to manage this active campaign. I was able to choose appropriate time-frames that allowed to me continue my full-time work/campaign schedule, while simultaneously being a full-time student. As far as affecting the campaign, being a student at Ivy Tech allowed me to make more intelligent, confident, and informed decisions.

Your love for the community has been shown. If you do not succeed with the position for this election how will you continue with your efforts?

If I do not win this election, I will become a reserve police officer and still go forward with my campaign projects, schooling, and other responsibilities. There’s always a chance next time. However, true success will not be me getting elected; it will be with citizens expecting more out of their government officials, and my ideas being planted within everyone’s minds. The bare-minimum doesn’t work for people in their regular jobs, why should we accept the bare-minimum from those we are paying with our tax dollars? Now, don’t get me wrong; winning this election would enable a new type of status-quo and being at the forefront of that movement would be very fulfilling. if I lose, the incumbent will have to step up his game, and if he does, then we all win.

Your want for a safer community is apparent. Do you plan on taking on higher political positions after this?

I do plan on taking on higher positions, but understand that the Constable’s office can also be as important as the elected county sheriff. Any political office is what the incumbent/candidate actually makes it and definitely not the political party. I say that because people are often too focused on what the candidate’s party is saying, rather than the candidate him/herself, and Indiana’s straight-ticket voting doesn’t help either.

I’m offering my own ideas to any office I run for, and that includes offices viewed as having more power- such as in the Indiana General Assembly.

With all of that being said, my career goal would have to be ending up in the United States Supreme Court, but not before securing the interests of the communities I come across in any official capacity. The road to the SCOTUS will be challenging

You are starting projects even before being put into office. How important is it for you to win this position?

The projects I’ve started (and their continuation) are not contingent on my election victory, though admittedly, having the influence of being the elected constable would add more importance to these projects in the eyes of some people.

Accordingly, let me say again that these projects are not in direct relation to the constable’s office, rather, they come from me as a person and organizations in our community.

The overall goal is safer communities and getting more out of your elected officials, but the latter would definitely come with my election victory. I would then have to say, yes, it it important to win this election for most of the aspects and ideas I want to implement.

For example, (and this is just one issue), you can’t show the general population that law enforcement is on our side, if you aren’t a law enforcement official yourself. That’d be like playing basketball, with a bowling ball!

With the past issues of the previous constables do you feel that you have more to prove to win the hearts of voters?

I feel that there’s pressure in any case to try to win an election. There’s a stigma with politicians, and rightfully so. I’ve already been a victim of political games in this campaign (but I digress). I do believe that there is more to prove with voters because of a multitude of reasons, not just past corruption and problems.

Some believe that township government is a waste of money, while others do believe township government doesn’t do enough. You can’t win them all but you can definitely try.

The corruption of previous constables is pretty fresh in everyone’s minds and they will be looking for reasons not to trust me. I say, please try to find those reasons (because there aren’t any). I’ve received many comments along campaign routes, all of these being in complete recognition of the fact that I’m not like your typical “politician.”

They often say that the public needs more people like me and they will be eager for me to get started. To consolidate these ideas: yes, there is sometimes a need to prove yourself in the eyes of voters; some don’t care what you have to say, if you’re not affiliated with their choice of political party; some simply want to know that you will honestly be doing good for the community; while others remember those recent, corrupt constables. It’s about reaching all of the people that share your same concerns, and who doesn’t have concerns about our current crime levels?