Jim Arnold finds new way to serve

December 31, 2018

La PORTE – Jim Arnold just seems to keep finding new ways to serve fellow La Porte County – and Indiana – residents, and this time to help streamline the way they buy and sell vehicles.

In November, Arnold was nominated by Secretary of State Connie Lawson and appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to the state’s Motor Vehicles Sales Advisory Board.

“I hope to make everybody in the industry’s job easier and more streamlined,” he said.

The 11-member board advises the secretary of state on rules and regulations, procedural methods, and qualifications for driver’s licenses.

For example, MVAB is discussing changes on how to handle dealer license plates, as some car sellers and drivers continually renew the “free” plates, evading registration and plating fees.

“There have been instances of people not registering their vehicles, driving forever without registering,” Arnold said. “They keep going back to dealers and getting their 45-day paper plate renewed.”

Other current issues include whether people who sell more than 12 cars a year should register as dealers; how to handle taxes on out-of-state vehicle purchases; whether salvage car titles should remain at 30 days or be cut to 72 hours for the vehicle to be registered; and warranty time – who should pay for warranty work, the dealership or the company; how long the warranty period should last; and what components it covers.

“We’re trying to make it easier for the flow of things – especially paperwork, to make things fair and see that the state earns their revenue,” Arnold said.

For the Michigan City native and Elston High School grad, it was just the latest in a long list of community service positions.

It started his senior year in high school, when he was a cadet teacher, “sort of like an unpaid intern” who assisted teachers with younger students, Arnold said. After graduating in 1962, he attended Western Michigan University for one semester, then joined the Air Force. He later enrolled at Valparaiso University and completed a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

In total, Arnold has served 56 years in the public sector – starting with his four years in the Air Force from 1962-1967 as an air traffic controller; 32 years in law enforcement, including eight as La Porte County Sheriff; four years as chief investigatory paralegal for the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office; 10 years as a state senator, and two on the La Porte Community School Board, an office he still holds.

“I want to contribute to the community’s education system,” Arnold said, “and as a school board member, I can help the schools and still be with my family.”

Public service may actually be in his genes – his father was sheriff from 1963-70, and was his inspiration to become a deputy and later sheriff. Son-in-law Tom Dermody is running for mayor of La Porte after serving as a state representative 2006-16, and was also a member of the school board.

As for his newest gig, the MVAB meets four times a year. The last meeting was Dec. 13, when Arnold was sworn in. The date of the next meeting has not been set, but Arnold said it will likely by March or April at the State House. Arnold will serve through November 2021.

“I’m excited and enthusiastic to be appointed,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and coming up with fair legislation. I believe everyone should adhere to the same standards.”

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