Sheriff, coroner square off in 'public safety' race in Douglas County

Sheriff, coroner square off in 'public safety' race in Douglas County

TUSCOLA — A political battle is shaping up for next spring in Douglas County, where the sitting sheriff is facing a coroner with 24 years of experience for re-election.

Fred Galey of Tuscola confirmed that he will seek a second term as Douglas County sheriff in the Republican primary.

He's facing Joe Victor of Tuscola, who has handily won plenty of elections over two-and-a-half decades as Douglas County coroner.

No Democrats have yet announced candidacies for the position.

Galey, 61, graduated from Tuscola High School and studied micro-precision technology at Parkland College. He worked part time for the Tuscola Police Department from 1977 to 1978, left for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (1978-80) and returned to Tuscola in 1981. From there, it was off to Nevada, where he served with the Las Vegas Police Department for 27 years, retiring in 2008 before becoming sheriff in 2014.

"I love doing this job," Galey said. "I have been a cop since 1977, and law enforcement has been in my blood all this time."

Galey said he is proud of bringing a police dog to the force.

"We got a grant for canine equipment and a dog," Galey said. "In addition, we started an annual canine fundraiser golf tournament at Kaskaskia Golf Course, with the proceeds taking care of the dog's food, care, vet bills and any equipment.

Galey said he expanded the sheriff's office prescription drug turn-in program. A mailbox has been donated to the department to provide a place for residents to turn in the drugs.

"We had someone sandblast the mailbox, and we had a painter donate time to paint it," Galey said.

The mailbox will be placed in the front lobby of the sheriff's office.

Galey said he supported two new law enforcement county ordinances. One allows people convicted of possessing less than 10 grams of cannabis to pay a fine instead of going to jail. The other prohibits patrons from bringing alcohol into clubs that feature adult entertainment.

Galey started an e-cigarette program for those county jail inmates who are addicted to smoking.

"I also put decals that say 'In God We Trust' on all our new squad cars, using my own money," Galey said. "For my next term we will put the decals on all the sheriff's office cars."

Victor, 63, said it is time for change in the sheriff's office.

He was elected as Douglas County coroner in 1994. He was also appointed as director of the Douglas County Emergency Management Agency that same year, and he has served at both posts ever since.

Victor said he will remain as coroner until he is elected sheriff.

Victor established the Ace Ambulance Service in 1973 and ran it until 1996, when he sold it to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

"I believe my vast experience in the public safety field will allow me to better address the needs of our citizens during the good times and painful moments that occur in our lives," he said.

Victor said he wants to increase community policing in Douglas County.

"I want to have deputies seen more out in the rural areas," Victor said. "The sheriff's office is responsible for the entirety of Douglas County, and where there aren't local police to cover an area, it is the sheriff's responsibility to step up and fill that role."

As coroner, Victor led the effort to build the new Douglas County Annex Building, which recently opened on the site of the former county jail.

Victor said his background as coroner will help make him an effective sheriff, especially knowing how to be sensitive to the needs of crime victims.

"I think my background enables me to deal with all the emotions that people may have in times of crisis and other circumstances," he said. "We work with all types of death. Each death affects families differently."

Other races for county offices remain without opposition so far.

Republican Bobbi Murray said she intends to seek another term as Douglas County Treasurer.

Murray, 53, was first appointed to the office in 1997 and has served for 20 years."The best part of this office is getting to meet people," Murray said.

She said he wants to increase automation in the office in the coming years.

While not yet making an announcement, Judi Pollock hinted she will seek another term as county clerk and recorder.

Four seats are up for election on the Douglas County Board: one in District 2 currently held by Mary "Bibby" Appleby, one in District 3 currently held by Thomas Hettinger, one in District 5 currently held by County Board Chair Don Munson and one in District 6 currently held by Jim Mikeworth.