Nick Ficarello, a Republican candidate for Will County executive, officially kicked off his campaign and is focusing on issues such as taxes, truck traffic and the opioid epidemic.
Ficarello held a fundraiser Wednesday night at Gatto’s Italian Restaurant in New Lenox, at which he spoke to dozens of supporters.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr., D-Elwood, announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection in 2020. Walsh has held the seat since being first elected in 2004. Ficarello was one of four candidates who decided to run to succeed Walsh.
“Today in Will County, we have several issues,” he said to the crowd of supporters.
Ficarello talked about how high property taxes have affected Will County residents, especially senior citizens. He said, if elected, he would “shake bushes and turn over stones,” to do everything he could to alleviate the tax burden. He said he’ll also focus on decreasing truck traffic on county roads. In his campaign literature, he said he’d work with state and local leaders to fund transportation infrastructure improvements, but he did say he was against all tax increases, including a countywide gas tax.
Finally, he spoke of his work combating the opioid epidemic throughout his law enforcement career and said he would continue to “think outside the box” on the issue. During his four years as Braidwood police chief, he worked to help dramatically decrease the overdose rate, which was among the highest in the state, and targeted heroin dealers. Ficarello spent 32 years working in the Will County Sheriff’s Office and spent the past four leading Braidwood’s police department. Both former Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas and former Braidwood Mayor Jim Vehrs spoke in support of Ficarello.
“I know Nick is dedicated to whatever job is given to him,” Kaupas said.
Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, said he supports Ficarello because he is a “man of action” and is a fiscal conservative.
“He cares about the taxpayers,” Balich said. “He cares about the people.”
The other declared Republican candidate for the position is former Will County School District 92 Board member Michael Messina. State Rep. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, and Walsh’s chief of staff, Nick Palmer, are vying for the Democratic nomination.
The Illinois primary election is March 17.