ELGIN – Donald Kramer and Willie Mayes, Sr., candidates for Kane County sheriff in the Nov. 4 general election, faced off Tuesday at a candidate forum held at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
Republican Kramer and Democrat Mayes fielded questions for an hour at the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area event, where about 70 people came to see the candidates.
Mayes has 28 years experience in law enforcement, 22 of those years at the sheriff's office and is currently a lieutenant and Bomb Squad commander.
Kramer has 30 years experience also with Kane County at all levels, achieved the rank lieutenant and retired nearly five years ago.
Each touted their advanced degrees and extensive experience as reasons why they should be sheriff – but also exchanged a few barbs.
Kramer's father George Kramer was sheriff from 1978 to 1986 and hired him in 1979, giving him his start at the sheriff's office.
Kramer said he was one of 12 who passed the test and all were hired.
"We both talked about our fathers who were previously in law enforcement. At the end of the day, they are not running for Kane County sheriff," Mayes said.
"We talk about master's degrees – I could make as compelling an argument about experience," he said. "A degree without experience is nothing. But experience with a degree really allows you be able to work and continue moving forward."
Mayes said he has been endorsed by the current Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, who did not seek re-election.
Kramer said when he left the sheriff's office nearly five years ago, it was to run against Perez.
"Would that be a good reason for the current sheriff [to] not want me to be in the office?" Kramer said. "I wouldn't want my opponent to be somebody who worked at the office. I might hold that against them."
To a question about how statistics show there should be 112 officers and the department has 85, the candidates were asked if they favored increasing the number of staff and how they would pay for it.
Mayes said he favored an increase and would seek funding by educating county board members about the sheriff's office's needs.
Kramer said he would keep the staffing as is.
"The citizens made it quite clear they want a flat budget," Kramer said. "The citizens have pretty much put their foot down, 'Enough is enough.'"
Though Kramer said they could do a better job with more staff, he would re-arrange management and get more of them on the street.
More information about the candidates is available online at www.Mayesfor Sheriff.org and www.KramerForSheriff.org.