DuPage County to elect first new sheriff in 20 years

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, March 5, 2018
DuPage County to elect first new sheriff in 20 years
DuPage County is poised to elect its first new sheriff in 20 years and the two Republicans running in the primary are police officers who both work for the department.

DUPAGE COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- For the first time in two decades, DuPage County will have a new sheriff following the November election.

The two Republicans running in the March primary are both police officers, Commander Jim Mendrick and Undersheriff Frank Bibbiano.

Now they are taking on the role of politicians as their boss, DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba, retires after more than 20 years.

"It was 19 years ago today I got hired by the Sheriff's Office. If you told me at that time I'd be doing this, I would never believe you," Bibbiano said.

"I've been here for 22 years, I've been endorsed by all the deputies, law enforcement and corrections," Medrick said.

Both candidates are pushing for updated technology, more resources to fight the opioid crisis, and promise a more transparent Sheriff's Department.

"I think we should be running a clean race, we are sheriff's candidates," Mendrick said.

But it's a political race, and even this one is not so clean. Medrick said dozens of his yard signs have been stolen, and this week a billboard was vandalized. He suspects the Bibbiano campaign is behind it.

"The people helping me is a very small group of people; my wife, 11-year-old and father-in-law, none of whom could climb a 30-foot tall ladder to take down a huge billboard," Bibbiano said.

In the meantime, Bibbiano accuses Mendrick of taking campaign contributions from vendors hired by the county and taking money from a registered sex offender.

"We do have a large amount of donors, I don't know the background of everyone, that is news to me," Mendrick said.

Sheriff Zaruba switches his support from Mendrick to Bibbiano. On top of that, Medrick said the sheriff gave Bibbiano several promotions, which made Bibbiano Medrick's boss. Bibbiano said he earned all his promotions.

Gregory Whalen is the Democrat running for sheriff; he is unopposed in the primary.