By NICK VLAHOS
For The Weekly Post
LEWISTOWN – In their jobs at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Ryan Maricle and Jon Webb have worked side-by-side.
In the election for Fulton County Sheriff, Maricle and Webb are on opposite sides.
Either Maricle or Webb will become the first new sheriff in Lewistown, the county seat, in 16 years. Four-term incumbent Jeff Standard isn’t running for re-election.
Election day is Nov. 8.
Webb, a 36-year-old Republican, is a sergeant who helps handle felony investigations, among other duties. A graduate of Lewistown High School and Western Illinois University, Webb was a part-time police officer in Lewistown who joined the sheriff’s office in 2011.
“I’ve dedicated, basically, my life to the county and keeping the county safe,” Webb said.
Webb resides in rural Lewistown with his wife, Katelyn, and their three sons.
Maricle, a Democrat, turns 43 on Nov. 2. The graduate of Farmington Central High School and WIU joined the sheriff’s office in 2004 and has been a part-time police officer and chief in Astoria. He is the senior road-patrol deputy in the sheriff’s department but has had his eyes on bigger prizes.
“People always asked me, ‘Are you going to run for sheriff someday?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’” Maricle said. “If you love your career and you know your career, what better way to honor your community than to be the leader of the career that you love?”
Maricle and his wife, Toni, reside in the Wee-Ma-Tuk development west of Canton.
Webb said drugs and the impending elimination of cash bail in Illinois are the two biggest issues in the race. The latter issue will force deputies to spend more time tracking down suspects to notify them about court dates, among other problems.
According to Webb, proliferation of methamphetamine has changed the public-safety calculus since his childhood days on his family’s farm.
“If I was visiting a friend’s house in Lewistown, I never worried about riding my bike,” Webb said. “But we’re starting to see that big-city crime from Peoria and Chicago. It’s starting to spread a little bit.
“My goal is to keep out the violent crime and cracking down on the drug dealers and trying to stop all this meth coming into the county.”
If elected, Webb intends to reinstitute the sheriff’s-office canine program, which assisted drug interdiction. The program, which Webb said was expensive, was not continued after the previous dog was retired. Webb also intends to focus on local candidates for open sheriff’s-office positions.
“If we recruit a kid from Canton, he may stay longer than, say, someone who goes to school at Western but actually is from up north,” Webb said.
Maricle said drugs and the burglaries that stem from them are major Fulton County issues. He was on the drug task force for seven years.
“The majority of my cases were meth, which leads to, ‘I’ve got to get my drug fix, so I’ve got to rob somebody’s house,’” he said.
“A lot of the questions I get are ‘How can we combat meth?’ I’m not going to tell you something to satisfy you. I say, ‘Listen, it’s not a very good winning battle, but we’ve just got to keep in the battle.’ … You’ve got to keep plugging away and keep trying.”
Fulton County Jail maintenance requires more attention, according to Maricle. Standard referred to the jail’s age, about 35 years, in discussing with the Peoria Journal Star the escape of four prisoners in 2021. All four were captured.
Maricle also said he’d attempt to improve the department’s communication with Fulton County residents.
“I’m very good with people. I can talk with anybody,” Maricle said. “You put your communication skills along with your knowledge and experience. The public is going to be like, ‘Why didn’t this person stay in jail?’ I’m going to have to communicate with them and explain.”
Communication between Maricle and Webb in the workplace has been sufficiently cordial, both candidates suggested. Webb said he’s assisted Maricle on some drugs cases. Maricle called Webb a wonderful guy and an excellent police officer.
But their current boss, Standard, has endorsed Webb. So has Standard’s predecessor, Dan Daly. He and Standard are Democrats, unlike Webb.
“They ran under the Democratic Party, but their decision to back me was based on my work ethic and commitment to the community,” Webb said. “They didn’t have any problems crossing party lines to do that. They feel I’m the best person to fill their shoes.”
Maricle said he never has asked his colleagues to support him publicly. He cited the 2006 election, in which Standard first won office, as problematic.
“It divided our department. It was a very horrible work environment,” Maricle said.
Still, both candidates said they would be fine with remaining in the department if they don’t win.
“I’ve grown up in Fulton County my whole life,” Webb said. “I have no intentions of leaving, because I want to help the community I grew up in. I don’t think that person would have that passion to help out another community if you don’t live in it.”
Said Maricle: “It would be different if we were vindictive people. And we’re not. If you let this get in the way, you’re not doing your job correctly and letting your personal life affect your job. That doesn’t work in law enforcement.”
By NICK VLAHOS