Sheriff candidate stays on ballot after electoral board rules he's qualified
McHenry County sheriff candidate Tony Colatorti will stay on the June ballot after the county's electoral board unanimously decided he met the requirements set by the state to hold the office.
The board Thursday voted that his qualifications, which have him holding a part-time certification as a law enforcement officer, were substantially enough and similar to that of a full-time officer.
Much of the board's decision stemmed from the expert testimony of John Keigher, chief legal counsel for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, who said training and testing for full-time and part-time officers are the same.
Board Chairman Sam Weyers called the testimony "compelling."
He, along with other members Steve Cuda and Lisle Stalter, reasoned the intent of the law is to prevent those without law enforcement experience from holding the office.
Before his retirement in 2020, Colatorti had been a police officer for two decades, including serving as police chief for Holiday Hills and Prairie Grove.
"If the purpose of the act is to make sure that our candidates have some qualifications to serve in the capacity of sheriff, then I don't think it should really matter what we call those courses," Cuda said.
Immediately following the decision, Colatorti deferred questions to his campaign's spokesperson, Kevin Byrnes. In a prepared statement, he called for Colatorti's opponent, McHenry County Undersheriff Robb Tadelman, to apologize for his previous comments about Colatorti's qualifications.
"Democracy and voter integrity prevailed today," Byrnes said. "Tony Colatorti was honest about his qualifications with the voters since day one of his campaign."
Tadelman said he disagrees with the board's decision.
"It is now up to the objectors to make a decision as to whether or not they will continue their objections in the courts," Tadelman said. "If they decide to do that, I will continue to support their efforts. For now, I will continue running my campaign for sheriff of McHenry County."
Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, attorney for the objectors, said after the decision there is a fundamental difference between full-time and part-time officer training, and the state has acknowledged the distinction.
"The electoral board just didn't follow the administrative regulations," she said.
Krafthefer said she does not yet know if her clients will appeal the decision, but said they have until Tuesday to decide.
During Thursday's hearing, Krafthefer said the objectors didn't disagree Colatorti's training was similar to that of a full-time officer, but that the time frame requirements for a full-time officer call for more continuous training.
During his testimony, Colatorti did not say whether he had been employed as a full-time police officer but insisted certificates he had counted as full-time training.
Specifically, a series of police training courses he took in the late 1990s, along with a firearms course, counted as the certification he needed, he said, because it was similar to other minimum standards courses.
"Mr. Colatorti is certified," his attorney, Pericles Abbasi, said. "He took a course that's the same as Mr. Tadelman's."
Colatorti said he also sought advice from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board on whether he was qualified to run before and after launching his campaign.
"We do the exact same job as any other law enforcement officer in the state of Illinois," Colatorti said.