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Former Sheriff John Lenhart Delivers Remarks

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Former Sheriff John Lenhart Delivers Remarks

 Lenhart Remarks September 15, 2011, Shelby County Court House 3:00pm

Thank you Chairman.  Welcome and thanks 

This afternoon I want to talk about the community we live in.  I want to talk about strengths and our weaknesses. 

This State Senate district which Shelby County is a part of is seconded in business and first in agro business state wide. 

Our schools academically are some of the best in the state. 

When it comes to extracurricular activates in our area, we have more state championship teams than most communities across this state. 

Our success is envied by most communities.

So you ask the question…..Why are we so successful?

It’s our work ethic, it’s our team work, it’s the trust that we develop and depend on in others.  This is a community were, in many cases, a hand shake is enough to move a project forward.

It is this ‘can do’ attitude that makes us successful in our businesses, our farms, our schools and our lives.

Sometimes though, things don’t go as planned.  In a free society the media will print, and radios or TV’s will talk about an issue or perceived problem. 

I, like many of you in leadership positions, have been on the receiving end of negative commentary and criticism.

That’s fair – because in a free society the citizens have a right to know both the good and the bad in their government.

Does negative media coverage hurt our community? 

The answer to that >>>>> is unfortunately yes. 

Will people send their children to our schools, will they choose to live in our communities, and will business choose to locate here or expand existing businesses in a divided community.

The answer to that >>>> is unfortunately= NO

So the question is, ‘What do we do when the best laid plans fail and criticisms arise’? 

Do we get mad and beat up the messenger?  Do we trample on the media and the public’s right to know?  Do we fight among ourselves rather than knuckle down and look for solutions?

My answers are NO, NO and NO.

Let me explain using two examples.  The Sidney city schools and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.   One, is started on the right track, the other, unfortunately not…….

The only current common thread between the two – they have both caused alarm in our community.

First, the Sidney City Schools under the direction of a number of people, including interim superintendent Jerry Harman and current superintendent John Shue, school board, teachers and community leaders have worked together to efficiently and professionally start to resolve school and financial issues.

Together they are walking down the long road to gain the trust of the citizen again!! 

Did everybody get everything they wanted?  Certainly not… Was it easy?   NO

But in the end, these leaders focused on what I believe are the basics for successful problem solving.

Good people need to get involved………….And they must be…..




Team players

..and…Willing to lead by example

I am not alone in these observations or my willingness to get involved.  The Sidney Shelby Chamber recognized the negativism adversely affecting our community months ago. 

The Chamber, along with County Commissioners, City of Sidney, and Western Ohio Development are starting a quarterly publication called the Shelby County Sizzler.  This is ‘Good News’ in our communities.      DID you know???

Ft. Loramie Boosters held a Scrape Drive. (Expand) JC Basketball Varsity team 3.85 accum, (Expand) Honda Motor success story(Expand). Clopay bringing some jobs back to Russia.

Will this solve our problem??  No but it is start.  These leaders are going to be part of the solution by stepping up and getting involve

The second example is the office of Shelby County Sheriff.

My passion for the office of Sheriff was instilled in me as a young boy. I had an uncle named Lee Slonkosky, who I remember would come to holiday dinners in uniform and in a marked car.

I remember watching him and listening to him in those early days. I guess he was probably one of my first heroes. When I got out of the United States Army I was hired as a Shelby county deputy sheriff. That began my life’s career as a law enforcement officer. 

But today is not about the past – Today is about getting involved, today is about being honest and today is about leading by example. 

 In my view the lack of openness and questionable activity that we’ve witnessed from the office of Shelby County Sheriff in the past two years has embarrassed Shelby county citizens and professional officers here and across the state. 

 It has hurt the positive image of hard working men and women who wear the uniform. It has also hurt our community and businesses more than we will ever know. To be perfectly clear - I am talking about top leadership and not about the rank and file deputies who still wear that uniform with pride.  We need more of these heroes to look up to, just as I once looked up to my uncle.

The office of Sheriff is the oldest law enforcement in the state and the nation.  It is the only law enforcement elected by the citizens.  The sheriff has extensive authority under Ohio Law. 

A Sheriff can truly make a different in the life of those citizens if he or she understands priorities and the culture of the citizens. A Sheriff can react to problems quicker than any other law enforcement.  

A Sheriff has a responsibility to work with and cooperate with the Police chiefs of the county.  Without a doubt, the best crime fighting tool is the local police and the deputy sheriff who can truly take a bite out of crime.  The rest of police at state and federal levels mission is to support local law enforcement.

A sheriff must be prudent with the tax payer’s money.  And above all else A Sheriff must be willing to roll up their sleeves and work with all elected officials at the village, township, and county level to provide services to our citizens.

Today I am announcing my Candidacy for the Office of Sheriff of Shelby County.  While my intent is to file a Republican ballot, because of my voting record, I may be prohibited from that intent.  Regardless, I will be a candidate for Sheriff and I have the support of the Republican leadership.

 I will bring back common sense and no nonsense to law enforcement. I will break down barriers and build bridges of trust.   Money will be extremely tight in the next few years.  .

 We will be facing an additional loss of revenue. The competition for dollars will be tougher than anything we have seen in decades. We all will have to work smarter with less money to provide the services for our communities than we ever have in the past.

 My Office of Sheriff will look for and embrace unconventional solutions.  Just as theSidney City School leaders put their shoulders to the wheel >>> working together as a community we can survive this. 

I have managed through tough times in government and my personal life before.  I will not waste your tax money on toys and other non necessities. 

The doors, financial information and communication to my Sheriff’s Office will always be open to the public, elected officials and the media.

 If we, or I, do something right you will be the first to know.  If the Deputies or I make a mistake you will also be the first to know.  The media or anyone else will not have to file an open records request to obtain information.  

The US Constitution’s 1st amendment will not be trampled on my watch.  The founders of the constitution knew that a free society and a free press go hand in hand.  The citizen’s right to know will not be interfered with.  I will bring back integrity, honesty, and fiscal accountability.  

Some people do not change.  I believe my service record speaks for itself.  I believe there are no jobs to small and none to big or important that we cannot handle. 

When I held the office of Sheriff I did not let you down and I will not leave you down this time.  You will be proud of my service to this community. I have the passion to bring back the values that you and I have for the Office of Sheriff. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

I hope you will step up with me to meet the challenge of the next few years. I need your advice, support, and teamwork to bring a Sheriff’s Office back that we can be proud of.

Thank You