Bryan Baca was born and raised in Bushnell. He now lives in Macomb. He is the only candidate of the three who does not currently work at the sheriff's office. But he said he has worked with most of the employees on staff from his time as a K-9 trainer and has the experience necessary in law enforcement and corrections to lead the department.
Baca is the Operations Warden for the Illinois Department of Correction’s facility in Canton, IL. In that role, he is number two in command of a prison that houses about 2,100 inmates.
Baca said the sheriff’s office is the only police force in many of the smaller towns and villages in the county. He said some of the local leaders in those areas are unhappy with the response time of the sheriff’s office. Baca said if he is elected he would assign deputies to cover certain zones throughout the county to better serve those smaller communities.
Baca’s career in law enforcement began when he served in the U.S. Army and worked for the military police corps. After leaving the military he took a job with the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Baca graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration. He said he is used to working within state budget constraints and identifying savings. He said he will do the same for the sheriff’s department.
Three Republicans are running for sheriff in McDonough County: Bryan Baca, Justin Lundgren, and Nick Petitgout. There are no Democrats running in the primary, although the party could still slate a candidate before the general election in November.
They're campaigning to replace Republican Sheriff Rick VanBrooker, who announced in early June of last year that he would not seek reelection.
Early voting for the March 20 primary is already underway.
*Note: This interview was conducted prior to Tri States Public Radio’s reporting about a 911 call detailing a reckless driving complaint against the sheriff. You can read what the candidates told TSPR about the tapes here.