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Undersheriff's retirement creates ripple effect of change

After more than two decades with the Kane County Sheriff's Office – including five years as undersheriff – Dave Wagner has decided to retire, creating a ripple effect not just at the sheriff's office but in the upcoming election.

Wagner wrote in an email that he plans to retire in July and will enter the private sector immediately. He intends to open a private practice as a licensed polygraph examiner, he said.

"I'm at a point in my career where I feel like I've been blessed to have done everything I've wanted to do here at KCSO," Wagner wrote, listing patrol, special operations, investigations, executive-level management and the SWAT Team as examples.

"I'm going out feeling very satisfied with the initiatives and accomplishments that I was able to be a part of along with Sheriff [Pat] Perez. Three sheriffs and six elections later ... I think it’s time to pass the torch."

Perez, who came up through the ranks with Wagner, described him as a godsend.

"I can't thank Dave enough," he said.

Perez compared the role of undersheriff to that of a vice president. He said the undersheriff helps with administrative and operational responsibilities and is tasked with making decisions on the sheriff's behalf in the sheriff's absence.

"It's really a position of very high trust," he said.

Although Perez only has a few months left in office – he is not running for re-election in November – he said he will not leave the position vacant.

"I want to make sure the organization is running on all cylinders and nothing is going on the back burner on my way out the door," Perez said.

Lt. Pat Gengler will fill that post and will retain his duties as public information officer, Perez said. He said Gengler's promotion will cause a ripple effect of staffing changes within the office.

"It's good movement," he said.

The effects of Wagner's retirement also reaches the sheriff's race. Republican candidate Don Kramer announced Wagner as his pick for undersheriff in February. Kramer said he was OK with Wagner's decision and added that it shouldn't affect his campaign.

"It's not going to stymie anything in the least," he said.

Others in the sheriff's office are capable of being undersheriff, Kramer said. He said he is in the vetting process, reviewing resumes.

Kramer will face Democrat Willie Mayes Sr. in the general election.

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