Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 4, 2014

Democrat candidates compete

By TESA GLASS tesa.glass@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — Editor’s Note:

This is the first profile of candidates running in contested races in Jefferson County for the March 18 Primary Election. Today, the Democrat candidates for Jefferson County Sheriff are highlighted.

MT. VERNON — Three candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination for Jefferson County Sheriff — R. Joseph Porter Jr., Travis Allen and incumbent Roger D. Mulch.

Porter, said he is running for the position to better the community.

“I’ve served my country in the Army, I’ve served families through being a foster parent of 14 children, and now I want to serve my community as the new sheriff,” Porter said. “I have been a full-time deputy at Jefferson County for over 14 years. I worked for Bonnie Police from 2008 to 2010. I attained my degree in criminal justice with a 4.0 grade point average. I served in the Ary for over 20 years with the majority of it in personnel administration before retiring as a first sergeant. I care greatly for my community.”

Porter said there is inadequate coverage of the county due to lower staffing of deputies.

“With the loss of (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) detainees, the empty jail beds are a concern as this will cause financial burden on the jail and potentially a burden on local taxpayers,” Porter continued. “Last, there is a problem with substance — whether it’s alcohol, illegal drugs or misuse of prescription drugs.

“I will tackle the issues surrounding the sheriff’s office and jail. I will work with the State’s Attorney to ensure that repeat offenders get tougher sentences. Because I care for children, I will reinstate the (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and create a scared straight program. This will save some of them from future problems with the criminal justice system. Finally, I will aggressively pursue the criminals that operate in our neighborhoods.”

Porter and his wife Paula have fostered 14 children and have three other children — Mickayla Walker and husband Ryan, Kyle Porter and Lynn Simmons. He has served as a teacher and serves as a deacon at Hoits Addition Church; has served the community as a DARE officer and is co-founder of JC Challenge.

“If elected as your new sheriff, I will work for the citizens, I will be accessible and I will listen to the citizens,” Porter said. “I will work as a team with the State’s Attorney and with the County Board members representing the citizens of Jefferson County.”

Allen said he loves public service and believes it is time for Jefferson County to be under new leadership.

“I have a great love for the public and law enforcement,” Allen said. “I cannot think of a better way I can serve the public in a law enforcement role than to be the sheriff of Jefferson County.”

Allen is a life-long resident of Jefferson County, holding a master’s degree in management.

“I am currently the chief of Ina Police Department,” Allen said. “I have a lot of experience for someone my age. I have been a Mt. Vernon City police officer, DuPont manager — where I directly supervised over 40 employees — and United States Army Corps of Engineers park ranger. I believe that Jefferson County needs a young and active sheriff.

Allen said he commends some of the other candidates with long careers and success.

“I believe at 30 years old, I am the perfect balance of young ambition and mature responsibility,” Allen said. “I want to make the Jefferson County Sheriff position a career and not a retirement position. I want to be on the front lines every day making a difference.”

Allen said the biggest issues facing the position is loss of ICE prisoners and drugs.

“First was the loss of the ICE prisoners,” Allen said. “This has to be a priority to get the jail back on its feet and being profitable for the county. There are still good Jefferson County employees who are laid off and needing work. It will be one of my biggest goals to get the jail back housing federal prisoners and these people back to work. The other issue the office is facing is drugs in the county. We have worked hard at Ina and I am very proud to say that we are meth free for the first time in years. This is not a fantasy, but a reality for the entire county. It will take hard work and dedication, but it can be done.”

Allen said if elected he would work day and night to get the federal prisoners back.

“I want to see that jail become profitable and not be a burden on taxpayers,” Allen said. “I know prisoners are available because St. Clair County is letting prisoners go because they do not have room for them. The next important thing to do is once we get federal prisoners back is to initiate a system of checks and balances to ensure that we do not lose them again. I will also work hand in hand with the other police departments in Jefferson County and we will wage war against the drug and crime problem the county faces. Jefferson County is my home and I want it to be the best it can be. If elected I promise to be the hardest working sheriff this county has ever seen.”

Incumbent Mulch said serving as sheriff for the last 11 years has been a challenge for the office and its members.

“When you elected me as your sheriff in 2002, I knew the task would not be easy and it would take great diligence and perseverance,” Mulch said. “I accepted this challenge. During this time, the sheriff’s office has faced and dealt with many issues: A new Justice Center that will soon mark its 10-year anniversary of opening, a fiscally failing county, the methamphetamine epidemic and budget cuts to name a few. We have all knuckled down, kept our heads up and not complained.”

Mulch said he is proud of how the employees of the office have worked as a team to ensure citizens receive services and protection.

“Jefferson County continues to face shortfalls concerning its financial health,” Mulch said. “The county board of supervisors has worked extremely hard to balance budgets and to correct problems that began many years ago. I wish to remain a member of this team and want to be a part of the solution to these problems.”

Mulch said he wants to continue to meet challenges and do his best for the citizens of the county.

“I am a life-long resident of this county,” Mulch continued. “I have no other business interest or agenda to assist anyone other than the common citizen of this county. I am a full time sheriff and remain committed to our county 24-hours a day.”

Mulch has been employed with the sheriff’s office for 34 years, working in all aspects of operation including patrol, supervision and administration. He served under two sheriffs and was elected sheriff in 2009, completing three terms. Mulch has a degree in criminal justice from Illinois Eastern Community College, a graduate of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, a graduate of law enforcement executive management from Northwestern University, a grade of the Illinois Sheriff’s Institute and the National Sheriff’s Institute. He carries many certifications and recognitions from his years in law enforcement.

Mulch said issues facing the office are actually challenges that law enforcement personnel face on a daily basis.

“While priority is necessary to best utilize available resources, it can be dangerous to publicly outline strategy in defense of an area serviced by law enforcement, and in particular, the office of Jefferson County Sheriff,” Mulch said. “Some of our strategies and challenges have been targeted by my office for many years, with significant progress made to safeguard residents from known and unknown dangers and threats to their safety.”

If elected, Mulch said he will continue to uphold idea that sheriff’s law enforcement is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

“The sheriff is warden of the jail and most important frontline to the citizens,” Mulch said. “My believe is that the sheriff should demonstrate these following qualities as well: Sincerity, honesty, empathy, respect, integrity, fortitude and fairness. I feel I have done so, not only as your sheriff, but throughout my career.”