Kevin Callahan had a goal for his career in law enforcement.
It was not, however, rising to the position of sheriff, which he officially received upon taking the oath of office at 6:58 p.m. Tuesday evening.
“By unanimous vote, Kevin Callahan is our new sheriff as soon as we get Judge (Robert) Marsaglia to swear him in,” declared County Board Chairman Ron Severson following the vote of the board consenting to the appointment.
Callahan would, for a number of reasons, have been satisfied with having become a detective in the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department. That was the goal he had achieved several years before his career took an unexpected course.
“I find myself at this point in my career by the two very sudden loses of two great men … one good friend and my best friend,” noted an emotional Callahan while addressing the Grundy County Board, which had moments earlier consented unanimously to his appointment as sheriff by Severson.
His reference was to his two immediate predecessors in the sheriff’s office – Terry Marketti and Jim Olson, both of whom passed away while serving. Marketti died in his sleep the morning of Dec. 14, 2012. He had left a letter of succession indicating Callahan was to take over as sheriff on an interim basis should Marketti no longer be able to serve.
Callahan said he learned about that letter back in 2004, the day he agreed to assume the position of chief deputy in the department after Marketti was elevated to the sheriff’s post following Olson’s death.
“It was that day that I began to prepare myself for this day that I hoped would never happen,” Callahan told the board and a room full of supporters in attendance to witness his appointment to the post.
That appointment came Tuesday following an earlier recommendation of Callahan by the Grundy County Democratic Central Committee, which was taxed with suggesting a replacement because Marketti had been elected as a Democrat.
State’s Attorney Jason Helland explained to the board that Marketti’s letter of succession only provided for an interim successor while the process of naming a replacement unfolded. By statute, upon Marketti’s death, the county had three days to declare the sheriff’s position vacant. While that declaration was made official by a vote of the board Tuesday, the declaration was actually made within the designated time frame when Severson informed the central committees of both political parties that a vacancy existed.
If there had been 28 months or more remaining in Marketti’s term, a special election would have been required. Since a little less than 24 months actually remained, an appointment could be made and was required within 60 days of the vacancy being declared. It is up to the county board chairman to make the appointment, with the advice and consent of the full board.
“So, based on that, I have appointed Kevin Callahan,” said Severson, who noted he had spent some time with Callahan. “I think Kevin will do an excellent job. He is a very professional person.”
“I’m committed to working with all of you to accomplish what you were elected to do and what you have appointed me to do,” Callahan said.
A short time after the board consented to his appointment as sheriff, it also consented to Severson’s appointment of Callahan to fill the spot on the Emergency Telephone System Board also created by the death of Marketti. The ETSB had earlier voted to recommend Callahan be appointed to fill the vacancy.