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Candidate: Livingston sheriff a part-timer

A candidate for Livingston County sheriff accuses the incumbent of being a part-timer who works side jobs.

In a news release late last week, retired Fairbury Police Chief Jack Wiser said Sheriff Tony Childress is not giving the county the attention it deserves.

"I intend to be a full-time sheriff," Wiser said in the release. "Being the chief law enforcement officer in a county that is geographically as large and as diverse as Livingston County is not a part-time job. The taxpayers deserve better than a sheriff who works second jobs in the private sector."

Childress didn't return messages left at his office or on Facebook on Monday.

The two candidates are running in the March 20 Republican primary. No Democrats are in the race.

In his release, Wiser did not say which other jobs Childress has.

In a news conference last year, Childress, who makes $80,000 a year as sheriff, acknowledged he and some of his deputies work as security guards at Enbridge Energy, according to the Pontiac Daily Leader.

Wiser said the sheriff does not attend monthly meetings of the County Board or its committee that oversees the sheriff's office.

"I will not only attend these, I will be available to the department, other elected officials, the press and members of the public to answer questions," he said. "Transparency needs to be restored to the sheriff's office."

Wiser, who began his law enforcement career as a Livingston County deputy in 1988, was the chief of Fairbury, population 4,000, for 13 years until his retirement.

Before the 2016 Republican primary, Childress tangled with then-State's Attorney Seth Uphoff. The sheriff endorsed Uphoff's opponent, Randy Yedinak, who won the race.

Childress filed a lawsuit against Uphoff's brother, Philip Uphoff, alleging he defamed the sheriff by saying he required deputies to campaign for Yedinak. Such a requirement would be against the law, and Childress said he never violated it.

After Philip Uphoff posted the allegation, he removed it.

A few months later, Philip Uphoff settled with the sheriff. As part of the agreement, he was required to post on his Facebook page for 21 days in a row a public apology to the sheriff for his previous statement.

In an interview with the Pontiac Daily Leader at the time, Philip Uphoff said he wanted to avoid costly litigation.

“I don’t believe that anyone prevailed in this case,” he told the newspaper. “I’m confident the sheriff would not have been able to prove his alleged claims. However, as a young farmer trying to make my start in these tough economic times, and having spent thousands of dollars on legal fees, I couldn’t justify spending thousands more in defending myself against a public official.

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