The Clay County Republican Central Committee appointed Mike Heaton to serve as Clay County Sheriff during its caucus Saturday morning.
"We were excited about the fact there was so much competition. We were so pleased to have good quality people," said Sharon Koehler, Chairman of the Clay County Republican Central Committee. "He's young and has good experience. He's been very dedicated to his position."
Heaton has been working as a detective for the Clay County Sheriff's Department, and Koehler described him as a person who interacts well with citizens and works well with his co-workers. While there were strong contenders, Heaton stood out.
"I think it was his experience, and he really brings some vitality to the office," she said. Koehler said local Republicans believe Heaton will continue moving ahead with positive changes in Clay County and the sheriff's department. Heaton will have to run for the office in the 2006 primary and will assume his appointed duties as sheriff after being sworn in today.
"I think we see him as the future of the Republican party in our county," Koehler said. "He's just a very nice man. He's a good manager, and I think he'll do very well in that position."
Other candidates included Acting Sheriff Larry Pierce, Duke Smith and Jasen Gibbons, and Koehler praised them for their willingness to put their names in for the position while knowing only one candidate could win. She said Pierce has served the county well in the past, and appreciates his dedication. Smith has 25 years of experience with the Indiana State Police, and Gibbons was a criminology major and has experience in the corrections system.
"It was really nice to see such quality candidates who were willing to put their names out there and willing to work for the people of the county. I really admire and respect the fact they were willing to do that," Koehler said. "I think the people of Clay County will be in good hands with Mike Heaton as Sheriff of Clay County. He's got some exciting changes ahead of him."
Sheriff Rob Carter resigned to take a positiion in state government.