3 Democrats Run for Perry County Sheriff

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By Stephanie Tyrpak

PERRY CO. --  Voters in next month's primary election will notice a crowded race for Sheriff in Perry County. Five men have thrown their hat into the ring. On the democratic side, incumbent Keith Kellerman faces two challengers.

Kellerman has been sheriff for four terms. He would like to serve a fifth.
 
"We've been there to answer our call and do our job," said Kellerman. "I believe we've done a fairly good job."
    
Kellerman ran his first campaign in 1998. He believes he and his staff have solved a number of high profile cases since then. They've also gotten the department on track financially.
 
"It took a long time," said Kellerman. "But over the years, we came out of that debt."
     
It's his first election since a 2011 public indecency citation from Caseyville. Police say they found Kellerman in a car engaged in a sex act with another man. The ticket was later dropped.
 
"It was an unfortunate incident," said Kellerman. "It was something I made a bad decision on, and I hurt a lot of loved ones and a lot of friends. But I apologized to those people, I'm trying to overcome that, and I've showed people that I've not let that interfere with my ability to run an office."
 
The sheriff says so far the people he's met out on the campaign trail have been supportive.
 
"Getting a lot of good positive feedback," said Kellerman. 
 
Still, Kellerman faces two democratic challengers. Jerry Speers also took on the sheriff in 2010.
 
"We need a change," said Speers. "I'm that kind of a change."
 
Speers runs a catering and BBQ restaurant in Du Quoin. He also has years of law enforcement experience with sheriff's departments in Perry County, Washington County, and the Pinckneyville Police.
 
The different positions are all skills he thinks he could use as a leader.
   
"Go out and find out what's wrong with the people before you have to address these people in the middle of the night or see them in court," said Speers. 
 
Rounding out the Democrat ticket is Dennis Cole of Du Quoin.
     
"We're lacking in strong leadership qualities in the sheriff's department at this time," said Cole. 
 
Cole is a school board member. He's also worked as a Perry County Deputy. He retired from the Illinois Department of Corrections after spending time at the Menard and Pinckneyville prisons.
 
"I opened up the inmate commissary," said Cole. "I worked officers clothing house where I dealt with the budgets and scheduling."
 
If he's voted in as sheriff, Cole says he'd like to put a bigger focus on rural patrols.
 
"I believe now would be a good time to bring in my qualifications, my experience for the job," said Cole.
 
News 3 will take a look at the Republican candidates on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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