Despite having less name recognition in McHenry County, Bill Prim's message of reforming the sheriff's office resonated with voters, who chose him over Undersheriff Andrew Zinke in Tuesday's GOP primary.
Prim lead by only 98 votes on Tuesday, and there aren't enough votes left to be counted to make up that difference, McHenry County Clerk Kathy Schultz said.
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As of Tuesday, there were 47 absentee ballots and four provisional ballots outstanding, Schultz said, though not all will qualify for counting. A couple of absentee ballots arrived postmarked Tuesday or later, which disqualifies them, she said.
The election results will be canvassed, or certified, between April 1 and April 8, she said.
Prim declared victory Thursday.
"We're very, very happy with the results," he said. "We're happy to be moving forward."
Zinke, of Woodstock, who was hired as sheriff's deputy in 1990 and became undersheriff in 2010, did not return messages left Wednesday and Thursday.
Prim said his was a real grass-roots campaign that relied on meet-and-greets, community events and social media.
"I had hundreds of volunteers that were actively campaigning, working, walking the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, passing on literature," said Prim, of Cary, a retired Des Plaines police commander who works as a court security officer in Lake County.
"It was an old-fashioned, 'Get to work' campaign."
No Democratic candidates filed to run Tuesday. The Democratic Party of McHenry County has until June 2 to appoint someone to fill the vacancy on the November ballot, Schultz said.
A message left Thursday with the Democratic Party office in Crystal Lake was not immediately returned.
Prim said that, if elected in November, his goal will be to ensure transparency and accountability within the sheriff's office.
"Right at the get go we will change the culture and improve the morale as to what's going on there," he said. "We will open up the department to everyone and solicit their input."
Prim said he'll make some changes in administration, including eliminating some civilian staff and choosing his own undersheriff. Rank-and-file staff will not be affected by cuts, he said.
Prim said if he's elected Zinke, a merited lieutenant, will have the option of returning back to that position.
Prim said he plans to take " a real, hard look" at the county jail and its budget.