On the surface, there’s not a lot of difference between the two announced candidates for Effingham County Sheriff.
Both John Gardner and David Mahon graduated from area high schools in the late 1970s. And, both spent many years with the Illinois State Police before recently retiring.
Both Gardner and Mahon announced their candidacies via email Monday for the position being vacated by three-term Sheriff John Monnet. Monnet has informally said he does not plan to seek a fourth term.
Gardner and Mahon both plan to seek the Republican nomination for the county’s top law enforcement post in the GOP primary March 18.
Gardner, a 1977 graduate of Teutopolis High School, began his law enforcement career with the sheriff’s department in 1980. He began working as an Illinois state trooper in 1984, patrolling Effingham-based District 12. He was promoted to sergeant in 1993 and master sergeant in 2000 before retiring in 2010.
Mahon graduated from St. Anthony High School in 1978 before spending 10 years in the military on both active and reserve duty. He began his ISP career in 1988 as a trooper based out of District 10 in Pesotum. After transferring to District 12 in 1990, he was promoted to sergeant in 1994 and master sergeant in 2002.
Both men are graduates of Lake Land College and Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.
Gardner said he does not have anything against Mahon.
“I’m not going to say anything bad about Dave Mahon,” he said. “We are just two different people with two different management styles.”
Mahon conceded that he and Gardner had a number of similar personal qualities.
“But I have a different philosophy on how to deal with people,” he said.
Mahon said his desire to serve in law enforcement began when he was “Sheriff For a Day,” during Law Day his senior year of high school.
“I’ve always thought about being a cop,” he said. “I’m not political, but I just want to give back to the community.”
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or firstname.lastname@example.org.