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Our View

Our view: Time for Staley-Ferry to leave clerk race

Lauren Staley-Ferry, candidate for Will County Clerk, files her petition Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, in Joliet, Ill.
Lauren Staley-Ferry, candidate for Will County Clerk, files her petition Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, in Joliet, Ill.

Lauren Staley-Ferry should withdraw from the race for the Democratic nomination for Will County Clerk.

She deserves no credit for finally owning up to actions in 2002 that led to felony forgery charges against her. She has spent the past 15 years avoiding responsibility.

Staley-Ferry is a Will County Board member from District 9 who now wants voters to trust her to run the clerk’s office. That’s a lot to ask in light of what happened in an Arizona office where they trusted her.

Last week, The Herald-News first reported that Staley-Ferry had been charged with forgery and theft after an investigation by police in Scottsdale, Arizona.

According to police reports, the charges included a felony and were in connection with an incident that occurred in summer 2002. Police say Staley-Ferry took a payroll check from the company where she worked as a receptionist while the boss was out of town. She made it out to herself for $500, and deposited it in her bank account, police reports show.

About a month later, before the books were audited, Staley-Ferry left her job and moved to Wisconsin, according to police. The company later discovered the theft and called police. After an investigation, a warrant was issued for her arrest in 2003.

Staley-Ferry was never convicted of a crime in connection with the incident. Had she ever appeared in court to answer the charges, she would have been considered innocent until proven guilty. But the charges were dropped in 2012 because police could not find her.

When reporter Alex Ortiz first asked her about the incident, Staley-Ferry declared her innocence.

“Nearly 15 years ago, allegations were made against me in Arizona,” Staley-Ferry said. “I am innocent of all charges.”

Then The Herald-News published details of the actual police reports in the case, which recounted Staley-Ferry’s statements when police called her at her new home in Wisconsin.

According to the police report, Staley-Ferry admitted writing the check to herself for $500 and depositing it, saying “I guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly.” She also told the officer she would repay the money.

She never repaid a nickel, her former boss says.

After the report was publicized, Staley-Ferry changed her tune.

“I made a mistake that I am truly sorry for,” Staley-Ferry said in a written statement. “When confronted then, I told the truth and did my best to rectify the situation.”

Her best wasn’t very much. Staley-Ferry had years to pay the debt she owed, both to her former employer and to society, and never did either.

Now she wants voters to trust her to run a clerk’s office that had a $4.8 million budget in 2017 and is responsible for managing county elections.

Will County residents should demand ethical, honest and accountable leaders in their government.

This story provides little to recommend Staley-Ferry, who should leave the clerk’s race.

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