With the upcoming retirement of the longtime McHenry County sheriff, the field of Republican candidates vying for the post of has grown to three, even with the election still more than two years away.
Retired police commander Bill Prim, 53, of Cary, and attorney Jim Harrison, 54, of Johnsburg, recently announced their intention to run for office. McHenry County Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said about a year ago he was a candidate.
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Prim said he retired in August after 27 years with the Des Plaines Police Department to be a single father to his two high school-age children. He said he wants to reduce the sheriff's office administrative personnel, and improve "strained" relationships with local and state agencies.
"The perception is that it is an organization that seems to serve few at the expense of many," he said.
Prim also said he believes the office is underutilizing its asset forfeiture program, which he touted among his credentials.
"In the last six years, I participated in the seizure of over $9 million in assets," he said. "By what I read, I don't believe that (the sheriff's office is) maximizing that potential."
Harrison worked as a McHenry County sheriff's deputy in the 1980s and then as a special assistant state's attorney in the county from 1992 to 2005. He's had a private practice in Woodstock since 1991.
The sheriff's office should be headed by an attorney because of the complexities of the job, Harrison said.
"There are hundreds of contracts that are typically outsourced to attorneys. I could save the taxpayers all that money," he said.
Harrison said he filed two complaints regarding the sheriff's office under the Hatch Act with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The Hatch Act regulates partisan political activities by civil servants.
The first complaint earlier this year claimed that Zinke should quit his job if he wants to run in a partisan election because his duties included overseeing the corrections department, which receives federal funding. Harrison said the U.S. Office of Special Counsel told him it would not pursue this investigation.
The second complaint, which Harrison said he filed in July, claims Zinke and Sheriff Keith Nygren violated the Hatch Act by changing the department's organizational structure so the corrections chief wouldn't report directly to Zinke, but to the sheriff. U.S. Office of Special Counsel spokeswoman Ann O'Hanlon said the agency can't confirm nor deny any pending investigation.
Zinke, 44, said he won't respond to any attacks until candidates have been filed. Prim also declined to comment.
"That's a fight I'm not going to jump in on," Prim said.
The primary election for sheriff will be in March 2014, and the general election in November 2014.