By Sarah Lang For the Times Sentinel
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — Tears filled the eyes of Mike Nielsen as he hugged Boone County Sheriff Ken Campbell after clinching the Republican bid for the sheriff’s race in the primary elections Tuesday evening. Campbell had a piece of advice for him: “Take a breath. Enjoy this moment forever.”Nielsen, a current major in the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, won the primary election with 83.5 percent of the vote, or 5,357 votes. Opponent Joseph Dennemann had 16.5 percent, or 1,059 votes.
Nielsen and his campaign team, in yellow T-shirts that read “the big dog has your back,” filled the upper level of Arni’s Restaurant as the results came in Tuesday. Cheering broke out once a voice yelled, “Dude, you just won!” The group then trekked from Arni’s across the street to the Boone County Courthouse as passing cars honked their horns in celebration. Hugs and congratulations were exchanged in the Courthouse.“I am very surprised, and truly humbled,” Nielsen said, once at the Courthouse. “I said we were going to run a clean campaign, an honest campaign, and run like we were 100 points behind the whole time. And we stuck to that. By God’s grace, I am blessed and humbled.”Nielsen credited his success to his campaign team, a large group of supporters who sported those yellow T-shirts since Nielsen’s campaign began 18 months ago.“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you,” Nielsen said to the supporters at Arni’s after the results were announced. “I will make one promise to you. I will not let you down. I will be the best sheriff I can be for the next eight years.”Eight years is two terms, and Nielsen confirmed his intention to run again for a second term in 2018. That has been his goal all along, he said. He doesn’t know if he will run against a Democratic opponent in the fall. But if so, he will stick to the same plan — running the campaign like he is 100 points behind, giving it all he has.“Thanks to Boone County for trusting me, for believing in me, for allowing me to live in this county and to give something back that I’ve wanted to give for a long time,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen has served 30 years with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office as an officer, enforcement lieutenant, chief deputy, polygraph examiner, and FBI-trained hostage negotiator and in command operations. He has also served on the United Way of Central Indiana Boone County advisory board, the Special Olympics board, as president of SAFE Kids, on the Prevent Child Abuse Council, on the Child Advocacy Center board of directors, on the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association board of directors, the Lebanon Rotary Club, Indiana Law Enforcement Torch Run coordinator, on the Domestic Violence board, and as first vice president of the FBI National Academy.
He ran on the platform of vision, integrity and experience. He had stated he ran for the office due to his dedication and passion for the job, that he believes in serving others before serving himself. He stated his intention to implement important changes to the office. Some areas in the department can be reorganized and restructured to become more efficient and effective, he said. He plans to begin an interview process with each employee beginning in August, so he is prepared to implement changes in January.
Nielsen’s opponent, Joseph Dennemann, didn’t return calls seeking comment at press time.