There will be a primary election for McDonough County Sheriff next year now that a second Republican has entered the race. Justin Lundgren is a detective with the McDonough County Sheriff's Office who specializes in investigating felony cases, child abuse, and homicide.
Lundgren has a 24 year career the Sheriff’s Office. He previously served a two year stint as the Chief Deputy for the office and worked handful of years as the police chief in Blandinsville.
Lundgren said he decided to run for sheriff after many of his friends and family encouraged him to do so. His campaign message is community first -- Lundgren says building relationships with the public is his forte and he wants all officers be active in their community both on- and off-duty.
“You don’t want to just interact when you are pulling someone over. You want to interact all the time. I’ve always done that. I still arrest criminals. I still do major cases. People still go to prison. But the key is interact with the public, interact with the people you work with, have an open door policy, and community first is the key,” Lundgren said.
Lundgren said if elected sheriff he would keep an open door policy and promote accessibility within law enforcement. He said he wants more people to ask questions and get a better understanding of how the office operates.
He said the biggest challenge facing the department is the possibility of budget cuts.
“The largest challenge will be doing more with less and that’s the key,” Lundgren said. “It sounds like a cliché but it’s true. I can do that because of my well rounded past that I have in law enforcement. There’s not a crime we can’t work on or handle with us or the help of any other law enforcement group we work with.”
Lundgren said he is developing cost savings plans for the office. Some of his ideas include streamlining the civil process by having a designated person handle delivering judicial notices versus spreading the responsibility out across the office. He also discussed the potential of saving money by taking the laundry service in house if the current contractor, Apollo Cleaners in Macomb, ever decided it did not want to do the work anymore.
As for personnel, Lundgren said he would like to get more women into command positions.
“I want to recruit women in law enforcement. The new thing in law enforcement is bringing females. There’s always great female detectives, great female officers, great female commanders throughout the nation great female chiefs of police,” he said. “They bring something different and a different outlook a lot of times. So, it’s very important to bring them into the administration of the sheriff’s office,” Lundgren said.
Lundgren is from McDonough County and currently lives near Tennessee although he plans to move to Macomb soon. He attended Western Illinois University.
Lundgren will face fellow Republican Nick Petitgout in the primary. Petitgout is the Chief Deputy at the Sheriff’s Department. They both entered the race after Sheriff Rick VanBrooker announced he will not seek re-election.