When a person runs for elected office, how important is it that he be eligible to run? No, I'm not talking about Obama and his country of birth. Something more important and a whole lot closer to home. Well, if you call McHenry County "home", that is...
There are certain State requirements for a person to run, say, for the office of Sheriff of McHenry County. Those requirements are:
1. U.S. citizen
2. Resident of McHenry County for at least one year
3. not a convicted felon
4. At least 18 years of age
Those are the requirements. All the candidates for sheriff in the November 2010 general election met those requirements.
However, and this is an important "however", there may be a disqualifier that applies to two of the candidates. As you'll remember, there were three candidates in the race: incumbent Keith Nygren, Michael Mahon and Gus Philpott.
Nygren was at the time the elected sheriff and was running for re-election.
Mahon was employed by the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
Philpott was self-employed.
Nygren should have known that he was disqualified from running for office. Mahon might not have known. Philpott was not disqualified.
What could possibly disqualifiy Nygren and Mahon? A Federal law. The Hatch Act. The Hatch Act of 1939. In summary, the Hatch Act prohibits state and local government employees from running for public office, if some federal funds support the position, even if their position is funded almost entirely with local funds. (Source: this summary appears on Wikipedia.com, which is not a legal reference but is a good starting place.)
The McHenry County Sheriff's Department receives substantial federal funds for jail and other operations; hence, wasn't Nygren disqualified from running for office in 2010?
Was Mahon also disqualified?
If both were, then there was one candidate for office remaining qualified. Eliminating Numbers 1 and 2 in the results of the General Election in November 2010, that gives the elected office to the only remaining person on the ballot.
What federal investigator will choose to remove Nygren from office, since he knew, or should have known, that he was ineligible to run? How fast can it be done?
Why didn't County officials recognize that Nygren was ineligible? Was there any talk behind closed doors about the Hatch Act disqualifier?
Will Nygren have to refund $12,000/month for the past 16 months? Should I claim back pay? I've already stated that I will drive my own car. I don't need an over-size Chevy Tahoe with heated leather seats. And I'll buy my own gas.
How will I run an office of 400 employees? I have an experienced, law-enforcement officer already lined up. This person has more than 20 years' experience, including command experience, and is totally free of any ties to anyone at MCSD. This person is not from McHenry County and will work with me to clean up the department and restore its image with the public.
The motto of "To Protect and to Serve" will be restored, and the employees will find MCSD to be a professional operation, which they will once again be proud to name as their employer.