Vote 2014: Johnson County Sheriff's Race


By Matthew Searcy

JOHNSON CO. -- Candidates for Johnson County Sheriff pull out all the stops as the primaries draw near.For the first time in 40 years, there will be a new sheriff in town. Johnson County sheriff Elry Faulkner announced his retirement last December and now a new batch of candidates are preparing for next month's primary.   

There are three republicans and one democrat running for the vacant position. Current county Chief Deputy Sheriff Jeff Jordan is one of them.  
"I'll be a good sheriff, like you have been used to for the last 40 years," he says. "My door is always going to be open to the public."
Jordan has served as the county as chief deputy sheriff since 1991 and wants to cut down on several specific types of crimes that have plagued the county.
"Basically, I will focus on burglaries and drugs," explains Jordan. "Those are the two highest crimes in our county."
He will be running against candidate Charles Harner for the republican nomination.  
"I've talked to Elry about it for a long time and I finally talked him into giving up, and now I have to step up to the plate and try it," says Harner.  
Harner is a long-time department of corrections officer and lifelong Johnson County resident. He wants to use his experience to create a law enforcement presence that makes the people feel safe. 
"I would like to be part of a proactive department and stay on top of it," he explains.  
Jay Merchant is the only democrat candidate and will run unopposed in next month's primary.  
"I think I can bring a high level of efficiency and professionalism to the sheriff's department," says Merchant.   
He has 30 years of experience in the Illinois Department of Corrections, most recently as warden of Vienna Correctional Center, and says cutting down on crime will be his biggest concern.  
"I'll do my best to prevent theft and burglary. And when they do occur, I will try my very hardest to find the person responsible and have them pay the consequences," he says.  
On Sunday, Johnson County voters were able to hear from all three candidates at a meet and greet in Goreville. Another republican candidate, Tim Warren, was not at the event. News 3 tried reaching out to him for an interview, but were unable to reach him.  
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