Editor's note: Written by Karen Sorensen
Nick Ficarello is the first candidate to formally announce plans to run in the 2014 election to succeed Paul Kaupas as Will County sheriff.
Ficarello, who retired as a deputy chief in 2009 after working for the sheriff's office for 32 years, released a statement announcing he will be a Republican candidate for the county's top law enforcement job. Candidates cannot start circulating election petitions until November to run in the March 18 primary.
According to the release, Ficarello discussed his plans at the April 18 Will County Republican Central Committee meeting.
Will County Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas, the current sheriff's second cousin, told the Joliet Herald News that he, too, was at last week's committee meeting and is interested in running as a Republican. However, he has not yet formally announced a plan to run.
Another possible contender is Joliet City Councilman Bob O'Dekirk, who has previously said he's been asked to run but has not made a decision.
Neither Kaupas nor O'Dekirk returned calls Monday for comment.
At the time of his retirment, Ficarello was in charge of the sheriff's department's Special Operations Bureau, which included overseeing the criminal, gang, crime scene and homeland security divisions.
He's also been a watch commander in the patrol division and a deputy chief overseeing the Adult Detention Facility, his news release said. His career includes work as a patrolman, an undercover narcotics in a state police task force, a detective and as part of the Will County Gang Suppression Unit.
Ficarello is a founding member of the governing board of the Will/Grundy Counties Major Crimes Task Force and the former director of security at Lewis University in Romeoville.
He graduated from the FBI National Academy and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development program. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Governors State University, where he is working on a master’s degree in political and social justice.
In his release, Ficarello said one issue that needs to be addressed is the "deteriorating sheriff's facilities." Money for improvements needs to be found from savings in the current budget, he said.
“We need to look at both sides of the equation; costs and revenue,” Ficarello said in the release.
“In a Ficarello administration, I will start with a 'zero-base budget' approach, making sure that every dime is accounted for, is used appropriately, and that the original justification is still there. ... I will lead by example. Every manager and staff member will see, by my example, that we need to run a tight ship."