There could soon be a new sheriff in town.

The upcoming March 18 primary election could decide who will go on to be Madison County Sheriff - incumbent Robert Hertz who has served in the position since 2002, or former Chief Deputy Sheriff and current Glen Carbon Police Chief John Lakin.

Both men are running on the Democratic ticket. While Madison County Republicans did not field a candidate for the primary it is possible that a GOP candidate will be slated in November’s general election to face either Hertz or Lakin.

One indication that support for Hertz may have shifted to Lakin is the financial backing of asbestos attorneys and former partners John Simmons and Jeffrey Cooper. The attorneys contributed $1,000 apiece to Hertz in his last election in 2010, but this year each contributed $5,000 apiece to Lakin.

Overall fund-raising since the beginning of the year also indicates more support for Lakin. Since Jan. 1, Hertz has raised $7,000 in contributions from three sources compared to Lakin’s $34,500 in contributions from 10 sources. The figures are based on records from the Illinois State Board of Elections and only reflect donations of at least $1,000.

Lakin raised just $2,650 last year. Hertz raised $22,300 in the last quarter and had $43,457 going into the new year.

A contributor who appears to be hedging his bet is owner of Fast Eddie's in Alton, Ed Sholar. He contributed $5,000 to Lakin on Jan. 14. On Jan. 23, he contributed $5,000 to Hertz.

Civil litigation 

Legal troubles are on the horizon for Hertz as plaintiffs in two separate suits filed against him and the County in federal court in November await his response.

Former Sheriff’s Department employee Jaimie Linton seeks $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages claiming Hertz engaged in a pattern of abusive, harassing and “totally inappropriate” workplace behavior towards her “because she never accepted his inappropriate and unsolicited romantic advances in the work place and/or in her offwork hours.”

The other lawsuit was brought by officer Eric Decker who claims Hertz conducted an unwarranted and unauthorized search of his phone records. Decker, who seeks in excess of $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, also says he was retaliated against for protesting the alleged harassment of Linton.

Hertz denied the allegations in a prepared statement.

“These allegations are completely false,” he said. “They are an insult to my family, my reputation, and my life’s work, and I will clear my name in court with everyone, hopefully, testifying truthfully under oath.”

The County and Hertz’s answer to Decker’s complaint is due March 17. The docket in Linton’s case does not indicate when a response is due.

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