Kane state's attorney candidates talk experience, ideas

  • Jamie Mosser, left, and Robert Spence, right, are candidates for Kane County state's attorney in the 2020 election.

    Jamie Mosser, left, and Robert Spence, right, are candidates for Kane County state's attorney in the 2020 election.

Updated 9/25/2020 4:38 PM

Two candidates for Kane County state's attorney cited their experience and views on issues, including one to create a citizen advisory board to review decisions on police misconduct, in claiming they should be the voters' choice to lead the office.

Republican Robert Spence and Democrat Jamie Mosser spoke Tuesday with the Daily Herald Editorial Board.


"I decided to run because I want to change the way that we have traditionally done prosecutions in the past," Mosser said. "I knew that given my experience, my work in the community, that I was in the best position to make a difference."

Mosser, of North Aurora, was an assistant Kane County state's attorney for 10 years and a prosecutor for three years in New Orleans. She has since practiced privately and was on the staff of Prairie State Legal Services.

Spence, of Batavia, spent 20 years as a prosecutor, first for Kane County and then for the Illinois attorney general's office, where he supervised other attorneys. He became a circuit judge, including a term as chief judge, and was an appellate court judge.

"I think they need a chief prosecutor who has experience, who has a lot of experience," Spence said.


Spence said the office already has great programs, including its pretrial criminal diversion program. He praised Kane County's drug, mental health and veterans courts for "holding people accountable in a way that is meaningful to them."

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"I don't know that we have to reinvent a whole lot of wheels here," he said.

He wants to pursue having a "one-stop shop" for victims of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. The Kane County Child Advocacy Center brings police, prosecutors and workers from the state's Department of Child and Family Services to work on children's physical and sexual abuse cases. He envisions adding help for people to get orders of protection, meeting with advocates as their cases progress, and working with Mutual Ground and Community Crisis Center -- two agencies that provide shelter and other aid for abuse survivors.

Mosser said the office already has a lot of that in place with the two agencies.

"Having it in one location is a fantastic idea" because clients often have trouble obtaining transportation, Mosser said.

Mosser said she wants to create a citizens board to review the decisions the state's attorney makes about police misconduct or use-of-force.

Spence disagreed. "I think that is one step short of mob rule and I don't like it," he said, suggesting instead a multijurisdictional task force to investigate such incidents. He also called for increased training for police, including how to deal with people who have mental-health issues.

Mosser also said she wants to try a pre-arrest diversion program for nonviolent low-level crimes, with an emphasis on getting offenders to undergo substance abuse or mental health treatment. If successful, she argues, people could avoid having an arrest record, and prosecutors could concentrate on more serious crimes, such as gun crimes.

Spence said he does not think such programs work. Without the leverage of legal consequences for failure, he said, people might not take it seriously. He spoke of attending drug court graduations where participants thanked police officers and prosecutors who charged them.

One of Spence's campaign issues is government transparency, he said. As an appellate judge, he wrote four opinions supporting people's efforts to obtain records under the Freedom of Information Act, and he has said governments should err on the side of disclosing public records.

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