Gannett Columnist Obsessing Over Mayor’s Loss

While most have moved on past November 8th elections, there is still one local columnist trying to figure out what could have caused the demise of Mayor Sharon McShurley. In Larry Riley’s 11/16 column titled, “More musings after Muncie city elections”, he ponders the question why voters did not support the republican incumbent. As opposed to accepting the obvious fact, they didn’t care for her leadership style, Larry presents several alternatives for their voting against her:

  • Blamed her for rift with city council, and/or
  • Wanted a democrat mayor and council to avoid continuing stalemate

Plausible reasoning, but avoiding the fact she was the most divisive Mayor in Muncie’s history. She had difficulties working with citizen lead groups, republican or democrat, on animal control, public safety, or redevelopment of Tuhey Park. She made no effort to improve the south side of Muncie, and watched as the YMCA walked away from the south side of town when our wellness indicators have been heading south. She refused to help the community centers despite giving Tuhey Park a $2.95 million investment, and gave the downtown YWCA about $900 thousand to upgrade their building, while the organization maintains a $1 million endowment.

He never mentioned any of these facts.

Maybe, he could have mentioned that public safety was an after thought as she converted Prairie Creek Reservoir (PCR) beach area to “swim at your own risk” to make PCR profitable. While at the same time, taxpayers who paid for the redevelopment at Tuhey swimming pool, were being charged over $20 for a family of four to swim while employing 28 lifeguards. Tuhey still lost $20 thousand dollars over 35 days of operation.

He might have commented about her hostility toward the fire department beginning day one, and never improved over her entire administration. She laid off firemen, closed fire stations in both downtown, and south Muncie. She tried closing the Hoyt Station, recommending its move several miles south to a political supporter’s pole barn. The presentation was made to city council without asking advice from her own public safety experts.

None of those reasons were mentioned.

Another good reason might have been her close affiliation with the Citizens for Good Government Group as a real estate investor with her husband. Some taxpayers/voters were upset when she took two homestead exemptions on real estate property owned. Some voters also referenced the hiring of friends from Anderson versus local Muncie residents.

Some of the people we talked to on election day were tired of how divisive our Mayor was toward all elected officials, referring to the lawsuit starting day one (election results), day two (prosecutor), and still ongoing with our elected officials in the county.

Some women were upset with her support of Mike Pence who alienated millions of women during his fight against Planned Parenthood prompting legal action, and a letter from President Obama admonishing Pence, and Indiana, for their behavior toward women.

Even others mentioned that her poor attitude toward downtown development, and eliminating funding to this valuable organization.

Again, none of these reasons were mentioned.

Another alternative Larry failed to mention is, State Representative Dennis Tyler has better leadership qualities, and is a more likable person, appealing to our diverse population in Muncie, or Middletown, USA.

No, Larry’s excuse for Mayor Sharon McShurley’s loss, was her very first lawsuit that took a victory from democrat Jim Mansfield, and gave it to McShurley. Fascinating.

Had the columnist been paying attention for the past four years, and not felt personally responsible for presenting a “hyped up rogue female battling the good-ole boys”, he might have noticed her leadership style was turning people off. This style, and inability to work with anyone who had differing opinions, might have been the cause of her demise.

We can’t help wondering if the Mayor would have been better served on Day 1 of her administration had she implemented a different leadership style once she saw got comfortable in her place as the leader of Muncie. It’s possible that she was encouraged by loyal followers to travel a rogue path, and then believed the hype presented by Gannett columnists. Rogue leaders may enjoy their public reputation, but that reputation seldom translates into votes on election day.

Since we just celebrated Veterans Day last week, there is a slogan the Marines use quite often which seems proper, and may have come in handy for our outgoing mayor, “Adapt, improvise, and overcome”.


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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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