Longtime deputy Carmen Navarro Gercone loses bid to stay in Cook County sheriff’s race

CHICAGO (SCS) — The race for Cook County sheriff has been reduced to a two-way race, after the Illinois Supreme Court rejected a potential challenger’s attempt to re-enter the race.

Carmen Navarro Gercone was initially kicked out of the ballot by the Cook County Board of Elections, before a Cook County judge ruled she should be reinstated. The Illinois Court of Appeals later overturned that decision and the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear his case.

“These are tears of anger,” Navarro Gercone said of his failed fight to stay in the race for Cook County sheriff.

Navarro Gercone’s name will appear on the Democratic primary ballot, but due to the Court of Appeals ruling, any votes cast in his favor will not count.

Instead, the only real choices voters will have in the Democratic primary will be incumbent Tom Dart and challenger Noland Rivera, a Chicago police sergeant. Another candidate, Dolton police officer LaTonya Ruffin, was also kicked out of the ballot after running under a different last name than what appears on her voter registration.

Dart challenged Navarro Gercone’s candidacy, and she believes the motives were purely political.

Dart’s former senior aide Navarro Gercone had gone to the state’s highest court to try to overturn the Court of Appeals’ ruling that stripped her of her candidacy for the June 28 primary. But the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal, meaning she will not be a formal candidate.

The problem for Navarro Gercone was a new state law, the SAFE-T Act, which went into effect this year requiring sheriffs in Illinois to either be a certified law enforcement officer or receive equivalent training from another state or federal agency.

“I spent 19 years on the streets making arrests, approving arrests,” she said. “It’s substantially similar training. That’s what the law requires.”

Navarro Gercone was a corrections officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and deputy chief in the sheriff’s office under Dart, but was never a sworn police officer.

“My 28 year law enforcement career means nothing because I don’t have a piece of paper? A piece of paper that wasn’t needed before January 1 of this year,” he said. -she adds. “We perform the duties of law enforcement officers every day. How am I, how are we disqualified?”

Navarro Gercone considers roadblock to his candidacy Illinois politics at its finest. She argued that Dart had spent more time fighting her in the courtroom than on the campaign trail, and she questioned the timing of the law, as well as how Dart had obtained his own certification of the weeks before its entry into force.

“Voters find themselves with Tom Dart sliding into a fifth term, and that’s not okay with me, and that’s why I’m hurt,” she said.

Dart’s campaign released the following statement:

“Carmen was not legally qualified to hold the office of sheriff under an act that was part of the SAFE-T Act and was intended to further professionalize the office. Sheriff Dart had nothing to do with that act and Didn’t even know it until the legislation was enacted. Fortunately, the courts have now clarified the meaning of this new law so that voters can be confident that the people they are voting for can legally be sworn in. Carmen should direct his allegations to the Legislature, not Sheriff Dart. You can’t run for office and ask for votes if you can’t legally be sworn in to that office if elected. It’s as simple as that. Sheriff Dart is proud to appear on his extensive and well-known recording.”

Navarro Gergone argued that 90% of currently trained Cook County sheriff’s deputies cannot run for sheriff under the state’s new law provision.


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