MORRIS – For the first time since the 1970s, the Grundy County Sheriff is a Republican. By less than 200 votes, Ken Briley beat incumbent Kevin Callahan Tuesday night to become the next sheriff of Grundy County.
"The campaign has taken on a life of it's own," Briley said Tuesday at a Republican election night event at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Morris. "So many people are talking about it."
Even before the numbers were in, he said that this year's campaign was different than when he ran and lost against Callahan in 2014. He said the message was different this time around, and what he called a culture of bullying and a hostile work environment in the department needed to change.
"We need to support law enforcement," Briley said.
And when the final precincts were closed, the room erupted with a cheer and Briley began tearfully hugging friends and family around him.
He wasn't taking chances though in the day leading up to the event.
"I wrote two speeches, one with a frowny face and one with a smiley face," he said when giving his victory speech. "We did it!"
After what was a contentious campaign, he said he would begin working his first day in office to bring the department back together.
"I will serve as sheriff with honor, integrity, respect and compassion," Briley said in his speech. "I will work everyday to serve you proudly."
Briley also thanked Callahan for his 35 years of service to Grundy County.