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Ogle County sheriff's race gets early start

One candidate announces; another prepares to do so

OREGON – After the April 9 election, Ogle County voters might have thought they had seen the last of campaigning for a while. Think again.

Candidates for sheriff are getting an early start for 2014.

A day after April's election, Rochelle Police Officer Brian VanVickle announced his candidacy in the Republican Party primary next March.

Joe Drought, also a Republican and the police chief for Rock Valley College in Rockford for the past 17 years, plans to enter the race next week.

They are vying to replace Michael Harn, who was elected in 2010 and has served in the Sheriff's Department for nearly three decades. He said today that he plans to run for a second term, but hasn't announced his candidacy yet.

VanVickle, 37, a lifelong Rochelle resident, serves on the board of the Rochelle Township High School District.

He has been a police officer and K-9 officer for the past 5 years. Before that, he worked for his family's business, Krahenbuhl Chrysler Jeep

On his website, VanVickle said the Sheriff's Department's leadership has strayed, but its ranks consists of "very qualified and professional deputies."

"With my administrative direction, this agency will return to the professional organization it once was," the officer said on his website.

He said he would shift the administrative focus back to crime prevention.

"While enforcing traffic laws and generating revenue is one of the important jobs of the office, it should not be the primary focus of the deputies," VanVickle said on the website. "Combatting and preventing drug use and sales, burglaries and thefts should be the primary focus."

He promised to form a drug task force, saying the the current program doesn't meet demands.

In an email to media this week, Drought said he would make his formal campaign announcement May 14 on the steps of the old courthouse in Oregon. He called himself the most qualified candidate for sheriff.

"It seemed time personally to make this adventure," Drought said.

If elected, he said he would develop partnerships with other agencies, address drug crimes, review schools' emergency preparedness plans, and look at developing the Sheriff's Department's leadership structure.

The candidates will run in the March 18 Republican and Democratic primaries. The general election is in November 2014.

In the 2010 Republican primary, Harn defeated one-term Sheriff Greg Beitel with 63 percent of the vote. Harn ran unopposed in the general election.

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