WOODSTOCK – With a retired police commander and a local attorney putting their names in the running, the field of candidates for the next McHenry County sheriff has widened to three.
Bill Prim, who lives in Cary and retired last month after 27 years with the Des Plaines Police Department, says he wants to “repair the reputation” of the sheriff’s department.
“Whether it’s real or perceived, the reputation is such that it serves a few, not many,” Prim said.
Jim Harrison, who has a Woodstock-based law practice and was a deputy for eight years, wants to improve upon the low morale in the department, which he says is a reflection of the lack of leadership.
“I think the politics has to be pulled out of the sheriff’s office and go back to treating everyone equally and fairly,” Harrison said.
The two men are running on the Republican ticket, as is Undersheriff Andrew Zinke, who announced his candidacy about a year ago.
The primary is a little less than a year and a half away, and Sheriff Keith Nygren said that his current term will be his last.
Prim said his top priority would be to “professionalize” the department and then restore or enhance the relationship it has with other departments and agencies, both in and out of the county.
That includes the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, Prim said.
Nygren and State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s relationship has soured; although Nygren previously supported Bianchi, he endorsed Bianchi’s opponent in the 2008 primary election.
Harrison, too, cited the need for an improved relationship with the State’s Attorney’s Office and said that he can work at that level as a peer.
Harrison worked for the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy from 1981 through 1989 before being admitted to the Illinois bar in 1991. He is a private attorney who specializes in employment law and represented the sheriff’s office in the late 1990s and early 2000s under former McHenry County State’s Attorney Gary Pack.
Harrison said his experience on both sides of the aisle makes him a great candidate with a unique perspective.
“I enjoy the practice of law, but I truly believe that my skill set can be more beneficial to my county if I were to apply it to the sheriff’s office,” he said.
Prim said he has the strong leadership skills and style that are needed to do the job.
“I believe in a hands-on method of leadership,” he said. “I believe in being present, I believe in being participatory, I believe in being supportive.”