Prominent McHenry County Republicans are split on their endorsements for sheriff early on in this year’s primary.
Tony Colatorti, a business owner who served as police officer for more than two decades and in that time, worked as chief at two different McHenry County police departments, and Robb Tadelman, an 18-year member and current undersheriff of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, are the only candidates to have filed in the race as of Tuesday, county clerk records show.
Both Colatorti and Tadelman are Republicans and are running in their first races for public office.
McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim, whose second term is set to expire this year, endorsed Tadelman after he announced in early 2021 he would not seek a third term. Tadelman has his “full support,” Prim said in a news release at the time.
“I’ve seen how he embodies the core values of our office: honor, professionalism, pride, engagement and service over self,” Prim said in the release. “He will improve law enforcement in our county by listening to the community and promoting the good within McHenry County.”
Colatorti’s supporters include McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally, who endorsed the chief and entrepreneur in February. He pointed to Colatorti’s his experience, which he said prepared Colatorti to “lead on day one.”
Kenneally, who said he’d be able to work with whoever wins, said he has known Colatorti for years and thinks he has shown that he is running for the people rather than enriching himself, Kenneally said in an interview Tuesday.
“The sheriff is somebody who needs to set broader policy and lead other departments within the county in a collaborative way while setting an example,” Kenneally said in an interview Tuesday. “I think he’s clearly the guy for the job.”
McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett also threw his support behind Colatorti, saying in a news release earlier this month that Colatorti is “ready to hit the ground running and doesn’t require on-the-job training.”
“Tony rose through the ranks before taking command as chief of police in multiple departments, and has real experience balancing budgets, managing employees, and answering to taxpayers,” Jett said in the release. “It’s this type of experience and leadership we need from our sheriff, not someone who has spent their career behind a desk.”
While attending a campaign event for GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, Colatorti told Northwest Herald he supported Prim during his run for sheriff and has done fundraising for him. Despite this, he said he understands Prim’s decision.
“People have a choice on who they want to support and who they want to back,” Colatorti said.
Colatorti said he’s been humbled by the endorsement and said he thinks his business acumen is something Tadelman doesn’t bring to the table. He said with all that goes into running the sheriff’s office, such as contracts, he will be able to help save the county money.
“We both have law enforcement experience,” he said. “What I’m going to bring to the table that’s different than [Tadelman] is the business aspect of it.”
Tadelman said having been with the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years, he has been exposed to every field in the office. He said he thinks his experience has prepared him to work with the McHenry County Board, the office’s budget and the community.
“Dedicating my life to not only this agency but this community is what separates me from my opponent,” Tadelman told the Northwest Herald Tuesday.
Both Tadelman and Colatorti said no hard feelings exist between the two of them and pledged to run a clean race.
That’s despite statements released following the arrest of Robert T. Hanlon, a Woodstock attorney vandalizing and damaging Colatorti campaign signs.
Following Hanlon’s arrest, Tadelman said his campaign would return all donations from Hanlon and not take any further donations from him. Tadelman said Hanlon “played no role” in his campaign beyond the donations.
Colatorti accused Tadelman’s campaign of bringing “Chicago-style politics” to McHenry County, aluding to a “network of powerful friends and politicians who will seemingly do anything to get their hand-picked successors elected.”
Despite the Hanlon arrest and subsequent statements, Kenneally said he thinks the race has been a clean one so far, with both candidates fighting fair.
“Both candidates have done a good job of keeping personal attacks out of it,” Kenneally said. “Voters don’t want to see that.”