Allemeier outlines Sheriff's race
The Democratic primary for Rock Island County sheriff is a two-man race and both candidates are familiar to voters.
Mike Grchan, the four-term incumbent, faces Mike Huff, a sergeant in the sheriff's department, in the March 21 primary. No Republicans are slated for the primary.
In a five-man race in the 2002 primary, Mr. Grchan was the top vote-getter with 5,732 votes. Mr. Huff finished third, with 3,546 votes, behind former sheriff's department captain Gene Jungwirth, who drew 3,582.
A smaller primary field will help the second time around, Mr. Huff said.
"There were so many candidates last time it was tough to know each candidate," he said. "It was tough to focus in on one and get to know that person."
The smaller field has made the race more low-key. Neither candidate made a major announcement regarding their candidacy.
"I just haven't got around to it," Mr. Grchan said.
Mr. Huff is a 26-year veteran of the sheriff's department. He is certified by the Illinois Attorney General's office as an elderly services officer. He has a bachelor's degree in law enforcement administration from Western Illinois University.
He is a long-time union representative for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 that represents the sheriff's deputies.
Mr. Grchan has been with the sheriff's department for 36 years. Among the accomplishments he touts as sheriff are starting a D.A.R.E. Program, getting liaison officers in county schools, and working with local police chiefs and the federal government to create a gang task force and bring a U.S. Attorney's office to the county.
This campaign hasn't focused on a major issue, unlike the 1998 primary when a new jail dominated the race.
"I didn't know what his issues are going to be," Mr. Grchan said of his opponent, "so I was just waiting to hear."
Mr. Huff says it is time for a change in leadership at the sheriff's department.
"I believe it is time for a fresh approach to the law enforcement challenges that lie ahead," he said. "My experience, education and training have prepared me for the job."
Mr. Grchan, who has been meeting with key supporters, was hoping for a short campaign season but has started distributing yard signs to match Mr. Huff's visibility. The race could turn into a sprint with a little more than a month remaining.