Simonton annouces he will not seek a third term as sheriff


LEE COUNTY — Lee County Sheriff John Simonton has announced that he will not seek a third term as Lee County Sheriff.

“It is with deep thought and contemplation, that I announce my intent not to seek a third term as your Sheriff in Lee County. My resignation will be effective November 30, 2022. I will be completing my 40th year in law enforcement in August 2022. This has been a great run. I have been fortunate to experience things in this career that I had never dreamed of, when starting in 1982,” Simonton said in a press release.

“I had the great fortune to work with an outstanding team at the Sheriff’s Office, to include an exemplary command staff. Together, we made some great strides toward modernizing the Sheriff’s Office – both externally and internally. Look no further than 240 E. Progress Drive where the new law enforcement center is now located – thanks in no small part to the overwhelming support of the public in voting for the public safety tax referendum, making this a reality. Working with the planning and finance teams, along with Ringland-Johnson as our design/builder, creating a structure that was functional, secure, technologically advanced, and well under-budget, was truly an experience I will never forget. Ronald Reagan said it best ‘there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if no one cares who takes the credit.’  That could not be more appropriate in describing the type of people that I worked with here at the Sheriff’s Office,” Simonton continued.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the current ‘atmosphere’ around police reform and negative media attention, had something to do with my decision. My belief is that we need to stop blaming society every time a law is broken, but rather start holding people accountable for their actions. The support we have in Lee County is phenomenal. I sincerely appreciate that support and have never taken it for granted, as we, in this business, will always work toward that unattainable goal of perfection in our response to the safety and security of the public. I will miss a lot about this career, but the most important will be the people (citizens and first responders), as well as the almost daily challenges of this honorable profession. The relationships we have built in the Lee County first responder community, is second to none,” Simonton continued.

“I am also in full support of the next candidate for Sheriff – Lieutenant Clay Whelan of the Dixon Police Department. I have had the opportunity to work with Clay prior to, during and after my tenure with the Dixon Police Department. He is the consummate professional and will continue to work with the command team of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, providing a seamless transition,” Simonton continued.

“I want to also thank my family and friends for their critical support throughout my career. They endured a lot during the past 40 years and I am looking forward to spending more time with them in the future. Plans for the future? Ideally, spending time on a lake with family and friends, then, contemplating the next opportunity that may present itself. Thanks to everyone for their support during my two terms as Sheriff. It has been a wonderful experience and I hope I have lived up to your expectations,” Simonton concluded.