Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley is a 30-year veteran of the department.
He won the job of sheriff back in 2014, when he defeated Ken Kaupas, the second cousin of Paul Kaupas, the then-
outgoing sheriff who led the department for 12 years.
Now Kelley, the Democrat, is facing a challenge from Republican Jim Reilly, a deputy with the department since 2013, for the Nov. 6 election. Kelley sat down with Herald-News reporter Alex Ortiz to talk about his term as sheriff and his re-election bid.
Ortiz: Why did you want to run for sheriff in 2014?
Kelley: I saw the department, and I’ve been here a long time, go through its ups and downs. Without throwing anybody under the bus, I saw the previous administration and the ups it had achieved, but toward the end of that administration, I started seeing the downs. So I just thought that being with the department for 26 years at the time and working in the various jobs that I’ve worked in the department, I thought I could do a better job than someone who never worked here and who only got to work here because they were related to the sitting sheriff.
Ortiz: What would you say are the biggest accomplishments of your first term?
Kelley: One of them was the K-9 division. The previous administration had disbanded the division. One of my goals was to bring it back, which we were able to accomplish. Our dogs have paid for themselves since we got them, with the amount of drugs and cash they’ve been able to seize. We had over 50,000 pieces of evidence in our possession. At the time, four years ago, we were storing those 50,000 pieces in five different locations within the county. So one of the things I wanted to do is take all 50,000 pieces and consolidate them and get them under one roof. We’ve accomplished that.
Ortiz: What’s your pitch to the voters about you over Reilly?
Kelley: I’m just going to say to them, look, this is what we’ve been able to accomplish and because we’ve been able to accomplish this, and because we’ve been able to advance the department in the last four years, this is why I’m getting the support of the department.