Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Gailius announced Tuesday that he will seek the Republican nomination to run for sheriff of St. Clair County.
So far, Gailius is the only Republican to seek the nomination. On the Democrat side, incumbent Sheriff Rick Watson is the only candidate seeking his party’s nomination.
Watson was appointed sheriff when longtime Sheriff Mearl Justus retired just days before his death in 2012.
Gailius’ plan for running the sheriff’s department will include “innovation, inclusion and integrity,” he said.
“We have had so many successes here in Fairview Heights. I think we could do good on a larger scale,” Gailius said.
Gailius was named Chief of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. Gailius is a past president of the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association. Gailius has been the Fairview Heights police chief since 2010.
Born and raised in Fairview Heights, Gailius began working for the police department when he was 19. Gailius has been a dispatcher, patrolman, undercover agent, detective, sergeant, emergency services and disaster agency coordinator, lieutenant, assistant chief and chief of police.
Gailius became the emergency services and disaster coordinator in 2006.
Gailius graduated from Belleville East High School, Southwestern Illinois College and Western Illinois University. He has a Master of Business Administration from Lindenwood University. Gailius is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Administrative Officer’s Course of the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville.
Gailius and his wife, Karen, live in Fairview Heights with their two children, Anna and Nicholas.
Watson worked at the Cahokia Police Department from 1978 to 2011, retiring as the department’s chief. Watson has an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in administration of justice. He attended the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. He and his wife Janice have been married for 29 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.
The primary election is March 20. The general election is Nov. 6.
Watson has not previously had an opponent in the general election.
“It’s America. Anyone can run for office,” Watson said.
The deadline for filing to run in the primary is Dec. 4.