News - Joliet and Will County

Will County Sheriff Kelley starts 3rd term, won’t seek 4th

Kelley second-term sheriff elected to third term since 2000, also only second since at least 1928

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley is sworn in for a third term at the Will County Building in Joliet on Thursday.

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley started his third term Thursday by saying he won’t seek another.

Kelley was among three countywide officers, including Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry and Treasurer Tim Brophy, sworn in to their next term of office after the Nov. 8 election.

Will County elected officials Tim Brophy, Mike Kelley and Lauren Staley-Ferry stand for their swearing-in ceremony at the Will County Building in Joliet on Thursday.

The ceremony at the Will County Office Building did not include Elizabeth Caparelli-Ruff, who will become the next regional superintendent of schools for Will County, but not until July because terms of that office run on a different schedule.

Kelly, Staley Ferry and Brophy all were reelected to their positions, and they expressed appreciation for support from their families.

“They asked me, ‘Do you really want to do this again?’ ” Kelley said of his family in remarks after he was sworn in. “I promised this will be the last one.”

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley shares a few words at his swearing-in ceremony at the Will County Building in Joliet on Thursday.

Kelley had said along the campaign trail that a third term probably would be his last. On Tuesday, the sheriff said he was definite about not seeking a fourth term.

“I’ll be 59 and have 38 years in the department,” Kelley said, looking ahead to 2026. “I’m looking to retire.”

Three terms for sheriffs are rare in Will County, Kelley noted.

Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant shares a few words at the swearing-in ceremony for several elected county officials at the Will County Building in Joliet on Thursday.

A list of Will County sheriffs going back to 1928 on the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association website shows only two others who had served three terms, and one was Kelley’s immediate predecessor. Paul Kaupas was sheriff from 2002 to 2014. Sheriff Joseph Trizna served three non-consecutive terms from 1962 to 1966 and from 1970 to 1978.

Goals for this term include expansion of the sheriff’s force, which would require funding approval from the County Board.

“I want to go back to the County Board and get some more revenue so we can expand some of our specialized departments,” Kelley said.

He pointed to investigations and narcotics as two units in need of more staff.

“They’ve been the same since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here 34 years,” he said.

Kelley said the size of the entire sheriff’s department is no larger than when he joined the force.

Staley Ferry also will need funding approval from the County Board for one of her goals in the new term, which is to update the tabulating machines used on election nights. She said her office has begun an analysis of what it needs to replace aging tabulating equipment used around the county at polling places.

Will County Clerk Lauren Staley-Ferry is sworn in for a second term at the Will County Building in Joliet on Thursday.

Tabulators record votes made on paper ballots, which will stay, Staley Ferry said.

“We will always have paper ballots,” she said. “I feel comfortable with them.”

Staley Ferry and Brophy were elected to second terms.

Brophy said he also wants to make technology upgrades to make documents, including copies of past tax bills, available online.

Will County Treasurer Tim Brophy shares a few words at his swearing-in ceremony at the Will County Building in Joliet on Thursday.

“We will need to coordinate with others,” Brophy said, noting other county offices involved in the property tax process will need to be consulted before changes can be made “so you could print your tax bill online.’

The swearing in of county officials comes ahead of the swearing in of the new County Board elected Nov. 8. That ceremony will be Monday.

Editor’s Note: The story “New sheriff in town” Three sheriffs in Will County served three terms since 1928 according to information on the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association website on Friday. In addition to Sheriff Mike Kelley and his predecessor Paul Kaupas, Sheriff Joseph Trizna served three non-consecutive terms from 1962 to 1966 and from 1970 to 1978.