Lackey, Chestnut on ballot for sheriff

-A A +A

Democrats to face one another in May

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY - Two men with  years of experience in local law enforcement filed their candidacies Wednesday for the office of Perry County sheriff.


Filing were Joe Lackey, a Department of Natural Resources officer since 1983, and Lee Chestnut, a county sheriff's deputy with nine years of experience.  Each hopes to  succeed two-term Sheriff Bob Glenn. Both are running as Democrats, meaning they and other Democrats seeking the same office will face each other in the state's May 4 primary.

Lackey's Priorities: Accessibility, Professionalism

Lackey, who lives near Branchville with his wife, Kathie, has been a conservation officer serving Perry County and the surrounding area for 27 years. He graduated from Vincennes University in 1977 with a degree in conservation law and began working for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in 1979. He joined DNR's Law Enforcement Division in 1983 after graduating Conservation Officer Recruit Training and the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

"I've enjoyed serving the people of Perry County for the last 27 years. I want to continue to serve them as sheriff," Lackey said. "I have talked to many people in the community and I know their concerns. I believe I have the right plan to make improvements where they are needed and build a strong relationship between the sheriff's department and the community."

If elected, Lackey said priorities will be maximizing law-enforcement coverage in the county, building relationships within the community, maintaining high levels of professionalism and ensuring the county's sheriff and deputies are accessible.

"I want to be an active sheriff. I plan to be accessible to the people and visible to the public. I believe in leading by example so I will be out in the field working side by side with my deputies," he said. "Professionalism is very important to me. I have built a solid, successful career by maintaining a high standard of professionalism."

Lackey holds instructor certifications in defensive tactics, hunter, boater and snowmobile education and police development. He was a drill instructor at the Indiana Officer Recruit School in 1998 and holds certifications in forensics, boat-accident reconstruction, marijuana eradication and river rescue.

Lackey was selected by his fellow officers in 1994 and 1997 as the Conservation Officer of the Year for District 8. He also received a commendation for his actions during the 1997 flood in Perry County.

Chestnut: I'll Bring Energy and Enthusiasm to Office

Chestnut has worked for the sheriff's department for nine years and was named chief deputy earlier this year by Glenn. A 1993 Tell City High School graduate, he joined the sheriff's department in 1998 and completed the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield.

He left the county in 1999 after accepting a position as a patrol officer in Bowling Green, Ky. He returned to Perry County and the sheriff's department in 2002.

In addition to his chief-deputy duties, Chestnut also serves as training officer for deputies and other departments in the fields of firearms and domestic-violence prevention and detection.

Chestnut said he has worked hard for positive change in the community and feels the time has come for him to seek elected office.

"I want to bring fresh ideas and positive solutions to the sheriff's department," he said.

The county's next sheriff will face several challenges, Chestnut said, including limited budgets, a growing demand for services from deputies and ongoing discussion about the future of the county jail.

He pledged to work with other county leaders and the public to find solutions to challenges. "My desire and dedication to serve all those who live and work within Perry County will enable me to incorporate workable solutions for these issues," he said.

Chestnut pointed to his age as an advantage and said he will bring energy and enthusiasm to the job.

"Many of our past sheriffs have been coming to this elected office after retiring from other positions. If elected, I will be 35 years old. I have the energy and enthusiasm to lead the department and serve the community," he said.

If elected, Chestnut said he will continue to patrol, respond to calls and conduct investigations while overseeing the administrative needs of the department. With only six full-time deputies  to serve the community, "I feel it is important for the sheriff to continue to patrol and respond to calls," he said.

Chestnut pointed to several administrative responsibilities he has already shouldered, including scheduling officers, controlling a property room, interviewing prospective jurors and revising the department's policy and procedural manuals.

"I know the daily operations and procedures for the department and the jail. I have the respect and support from the current deputies and jail staff and have a well-established and outstanding working relationship with all of the other law-enforcement departments in Perry and surrounding counties, the prosecutor's office and the judge's office," Chestnut said.

Chestnut is the son of Janna Chestnut and the late Morris Chestnut. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, 6-year-old Kaden and Lanie, 3.

Candidates have until noon Feb. 19 to file for the May primary.