ROCKFORD - Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana has won re-election as sheriff in the county for a second term.
Caruana, 61, beat former chief deputy and Democrat Bob Springer with over 56.8 percent of votes (50,282) to Springer's 43.1 percent (38,156). Tuesday's victory for Caruana marks the second time he's defeated Springer following a challenge in 2014.
Caruana celebrated the victory Tuesday night with supporters, family and friends with other Republican candidates at Giovanni's in Rockford.
"I am happy we can continue to build the relationship we have in our region and continue to bring down crime in Winnebago County," Caruana said.
He said Tuesday's result showed voters still believe in him regardless of the past turmoil with the Winnebago County Board.
"I think it's a vote of confidence from the voters who say they want to see me keep doing what I am doing and are happy with that," Caruana said in an interview with the Beloit Daily News. "I am going to work with the county board on the budget, but I have to make sure that I follow good law enforcement practices for the county."
Caruana went back-and-forth with the county board during the 2018 budget year after he drew a line against making the required $4.3 million cuts to the budget, making about $2.3 million in overall cuts.
As part of the 2019 budget, Caruana will be required to report back to the board to give updates on implementing a path forward for the department. The county board approved an additional $2.7 million in reserve spending to cover costs incurred in-part by Caruana forgoing making cuts.
Caruana said he would continue to focus on the county's efforts in combating domestic violence, human trafficking and drug enforcement, highlighting the Safe Streets Task Force as a key way to reduce the county's crime rate.