ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The race for the republican seat for Lee County Sheriff is on and both candidates are boasting about their past success. With the campaign trail nearing its end, both men are making their final case on why they should be elected.
Incumbent Lee County Sheriff John Varga and challenger Dixon Police Officer John Simonton each have extensive experience and both are looking to use that in the job as Lee County’s top cop.
Varga is a former Chief Bailiff with the county jail. He's been Sheriff for the last eight years. Simonton is a former Boone County Deputy and State Trooper. Both think their decades of work would benefit the county.
"People in Lee County know that if they call the Sheriff's Department, that we're going to show up and take care of their problems. To me that's the biggest part of it is keeping the families safe in Lee County," says Varga.
"I have done over 1,500 high risk operations in my career and either been a part of or led those operations so I feel my experience is definitely a huge plus,” says Simonton.
One negative with the job is the county budget as it will soon lose $1 million in revenue as the county landfill contract comes to an end and the sheriff's office could suffer as a result.
"We need to make sure to help the County Board look for other ways of revenue, work with them in order so we can maintain what we have at the Sheriff's Department what we build up."
"You still ask the County Board for some of the essential needs. You do triage on your budget and find out exactly what the officers need to make them more efficient and more responsive to the needs of the community."
Not surprisingly, both believe they are the best man for the job.
"I feel that I've got very good leadership skills. I've continually educated myself, continued went to train myself. I've taught a lot of classes."
"My decisions when it comes to the Sheriff's Department and what we've made always have the best interest of the citizens of Lee County in it and that's what I'll continue to do to make sure they got it."
Republican voters will decide who is best at the polls on March 18.