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Vote 2012 Preview: Sangamon County State's Attorney
Two men are vying to be Sangamon County's top prosecutor. One has the job now. One is calling for change.
The most violent crimes in Sangamon County are prosecuted by the state's attorney. Right now, that's John Milhiser. The Republican has held various roles in the Sangamon County State's Attorney's office, as well as working in a private firm.
After re-joining the county team, he was appointed to the top position in 2010, and is now running in the general election to keep the seat.
"It's a necessary qualification that the state's attorney be somebody who prosecutes cases and is in the courtroom, who is a trial attorney and a prosecutor," Milhiser said. "That's what I am. My opponent is not a trial attorney and not a prosecutor."
Ron Stradt is the Democractic candidate on the ballot. The Quad Cities native and Marine Corps veteran is an attorney for the Illinois Education Association. He has previous experience in the Rock Island County State's Attorney's office and the Illinois Attorney General's Office.
"I've been in numerous state courts throughout the state and numerous federal courts, so I have the trial experience to do cases," Stradt said.
In his campaign, Stradt is touting that if elected, he would not prosecute someone who carries a concealed weapon and uses it for self-defense.
Milhiser said Stradt is using that stance to shift the focus from who's more qualified as the county's top prosecutor.
"I support concealed carry," Milhiser said. "I've publicly said that, and I do, but I also understand the duty imposed upon me to follow the law as state's attorney. Every case is looked at on its own individual facts, and it's very difficult and hypothetical to say whether charges will or won't be filed."
Stradt accuses Milhiser of "cherry picking" which cases to prosecute, and not doing it fairly. His example is the case of Andrea Pryor, who was arrested in 2010 for domestic battery and had a bag with suspected cocaine residue, according to a police report. Prior works as a court reporter in the county building.
"I'm not going to sweep under the rug somebody's criminal offense because of who they know," Stradt said.
"That's an individual who works in the county building," Milhiser said. "There was a conflict with my office. I forwarded that case to the appellate prosecutor's office. Therefore, I have no decision on whether or not that case is prosecuted, what the charges are, or what the outcome is."
In closing arguments, each candidate wraps up why he's the better man for the job.
"I'd be a more aggressive prosecutor than our state's attorney," Stradt said.
"Every effort is going to be made to make sure justice is served, and I want to continue to do that," Milhiser said.
If elected, Ron Stradt wants to select a panel to investigate legislative misconduct.
If John Milhiser remains state's attorney, he wants to continue to add specialized courts for mental health patients and veterans to help re-integrate them into the community after low-level offenses. A drug treatment court started in 2010.
The Sangamon County State's Attorney's race will be on the ballot for all Sangamon County voters November 6.
Watch the raw interview with John Milhiser.
Watch the raw interview with Ron Stradt.