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Lackey to stay in sheriff's race

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Democrat says voters want him to continue campaign

By Vince Luecke

PERRY COUNTY - A candidate for sheriff arrested last month for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated has resumed his campaign and said Monday he has found overwhelming support for his decision to stay in the race.

"Nearly everyone - I'd say 98 percent of the people I've talked to or who have come up and spoken with me - wants me to stay in. That's what I'm going to do," Joe Lackey said Monday. "I'm not a quitter. I'm in this until the end."

Lackey, who stepped down last week from his job as a conservation officer, is vying with three other Democrats, Bill Schroeder, Lee Chestnut and Lynn Wooldridge, for the Democratic nomination for sheriff in the May 4 primary. The winner will advance to November's general election, where, thus far, there is no Republican opposition.

Lackey, 52, was arrested in Tell City March 17 by a part-time sheriff's deputy who said he  fielded a call reporting that the candidate was in the Troy area and appeared to be intoxicated. Roger Smith, who works full time as a Tell City patrolman but works part time for the sheriff's department, said he spotted Lackey, on the city's north side and met with him after he stopped his truck in the 2300 block of Jefferson Street.

He allegedly failed a preliminary breath test and according to a probable-cause affidavit, had a blood-alcohol concentration of .15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit.

Lackey suspended his campaign the day after his arrest but said Monday he was again actively courting voters. He retired last week after 31 years with the Indiana Department of Natural Resource. He worked 27 of those years as a conservation officer.

Lackey, who faces charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more, did not comment on the timing of his retirement and referred questions about the criminal case to his attorney, Michael Hagedorn.

Lackey was off duty when arrested and continued to work after the incident but according to Lt. Mark Farmer, a public-information officer for DNR's law-enforcement division, retired as of March 31.

County Prosecutor Robert Collins, citing Lackey's service as a conservation officer and his wife, Kathie's, job as jail commander, has filed a request for a special prosecutor in the case.

Lackey and other candidates for sheriff will share their reasons for running and respond to questions submitted to The News by the public during an April 15 forum at the Schergens Center. The event is open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. It will be broadcast live on WTCJ 105.7 FM and online at www.tellcityradio.com. More information about the forum is available in another story in this edition.