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Fayette County’s sheriff for the past seven years has decided that he wants to seek a third term in office.
Aaron Lay announced last Friday that he is running for re-election in 2014.
Lay, 50, is the third Republican to announce a candidacy for sheriff next year. He will compete with Chris Smith and Bruce Bowen.
A lifelong resident of Fayette County, Lay is a 1980 graduate of Vandalia Community High School.
He has worked in law enforcement for 24 years, beginning his career with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office when hired as a deputy by then-sheriff Dan Taylor in 1990.
Lay holds an associate’s degree in administration of justice from Kaskaskia College, hascompleted the 400-hour, full-time police academy at Southwestern Illinois College and holds nearly 100 certificates for law enforcement training.
During his tenure as sheriff, Lay said, “We have worked well with all area, state and federal law enforcement.
“Our staff has been cited for meritorious work with state and federal agencies for drug work, and deputies have been recognized for their work in apprehending those driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Lay said.
Improvements during his tenure, he said, have included a new radio room, squad car radios and portable radios, all purchased with a federal $210,000 grant.
Some grant funds were also used to purchase Tasers, and more are being used as the department switches over to Glock firearms this month.
Lay said that he used grant money to buy lawn equipment that is used in a community service program, with jail prisoners mowing several locations, and that other grant funds have been used for the wages of a deputy.
Also added during his tenure, Lay said, is a K-9 unit, with Phantom being used for narcotics detention, tracking and apprehension. The dog and his training were paid for with grant funds, he said.
His accomplishments also include negotiating an increase that the county receives for housing federal inmates.
Recent times have been challenging, he said, but his staff has handled them well.
“With a shortfall in tax monies returned by the state, the sheriff’s office budget has been cut by about 12 percent,” Lay said.
“We have made cuts in big ticket items over the past three years, namely squad cars. We are currently looking at funding to update our fleet,” he said.
“There have been job cuts, through attrition, as well as shift adjustments and duties added to our staff,” Lay said. “The staff has done an excellent job in handling the additional duties.”
He said that the county jail is inspected each year by the Illinois Department of Corrections, and each of the past five years, under the management of Jail Administrator J.D. Vieregge, the jail has received a 100-percent rating.
Lay also noted the addition of a policy manual, and he said that something new this year is the addition of a school resource officer.
He said that he, Chief Deputy Brent Ellis and deputies will be making random visits to schools in the county “to provide a safety presence.”
Lay said that he has been blessed to work with some good people.
“The office of sheriff is a job that requires the effort of a team,” he said.
“I work with a dedicated staff of deputies, corrections officers, telecommunicators and office personnel. With them, not of the aforementioned tasks could or will be completed,” Lay said.