Reilly announces another run for Will County Sheriff in 2022 election

Reilly ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Sheriff Mike Kelley in 2018

Kelley’s victory over Reilly came after a campaign in which the two candidates were sometimes fiercely at odds.

At a Herald-News debate, Reilly accused the sheriff of having a “bully mentality,” while Kelley said his opponent was spreading “half-truths” about the sheriff’s office.

Reilly ran an aggressive campaign, challenging the sheriff’s credentials and contending the office had one of the worst records in the state in solving homicides.

Kelley when asked Tuesday what it would be like after the election once the two candidates returned to work, paused, laughed and finally said, “It will be back to normal.”

James Reilly, the 2018 Republican nominee for Will County Sheriff, announced he is running again for the position in the 2022 election.

Reilly, a Wilmington resident, has served as a Will County Sheriff’s deputy, holds a doctorate in criminal justice, and teaches at the University of St. Francis in Joliet.

He unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley in 2018 and lost the general election by a 58% to 42% margin.

While he made no specific mention of Kelley in his announcement, Reilly made a partisan appeal to voters. He also slammed the state’s recently enacted police reform law which contained provisions he called “totally unacceptable.”

“During these difficult and confusing times, I feel it is vital for our Will County residents, the law enforcement community, and first responders to know there are professional, hard-working community members willing to stand up and fight against the ongoing Progressive Democratic movement,” Reilly said in a news release. “If left unchallenged, the Illinois liberal agenda will undermine law enforcement, risk the safety of our first responders, and further the progressive Chicago agenda into our Will County communities.”

Reilly also claimed without evidence that “Illinois politicians have moved to defund law enforcement,” a critique similar to those which police reform advocates have called “fearmongering.”

While Reilly said he understands the “need for change within the criminal justice arena,” he argued the “recent political agenda,” referring to the new law, “is one of extremism.”

He also cited his support in his last election bid from fellow law enforcement officials, including former Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas, Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes and former Braidwood Police Chief Nick Ficarello.

“Illinois law enforcement is suffering from failed policies, misguided political rhetoric, and weak politicians who are more worried about money and power than protecting the communities in which we live,” Reilly said in the release.