Candidates for Winnebago County State’s Attorney plead their case to County Board


The search is on to find a replacement for outgoing Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato, who handed in his resignation on Wednesday, after being elected judge to the 17th Judicial Court.

On Thursday, seven applicants interviewed for the position before the Winnebago County Board in a public hearing.

“I am up for the challenge,” said Marilyn Hite Ross, who is currently serving as the Chief of the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Criminal Bureau.

“I would really be able to make a difference in our community,” said Assistant State’s Attorney, Alison Meason.

“I can help build bridges between my office and the people that we serve,” said Assistant State’s Attorney, Wendy Larson Bennett.

Those three applicants, along with Judge Rosemary Collins, Paul Carpenter, Rene Hernandez, and Daniel McGrail all made their case on Thursday.

Hite Ross, who served under Bruscato, says the transition of power would be easiest with her.

“I’ve been in the leadership role for the past ten years, at the helm with Mr. Bruscato,” she said. “We have certain programs in place, and vision for the office in place, and I’d like to see those through as tenure of 2020.”

However, Larson Bennett believes she qualified for the job. If chosen, she would focus on bridging the gap she says exist between the office and the community.

“There is a trust gap between the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office and certain segments of citizens in Winnebago County, and I believe I can help build bridges between my office and the people that we serve,” she said.

Meason hopes to make those who work for the State’s Attorney’s office easier, by relocating their workloads.

“There could be more efficiency in some of the administrative roles and maybe, some of the tasks that are being performed could be more efficiently performed, and managed, by other people,” she said.

Judge Rosemary Collins is also in the running. She’s retiring from her judgeship after serving for 30 years.

Collins has been an advocate against domestic violence. As Winnebago County State’s Attorney, she sees the perfect opportunity to continue that mission.

“I saw this as a natural extension of my commitment to service, to prevent violence in our community, and when the opening became available, I thought I would do it, just to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the fact of what we are working for, which is ultimately a community where violence is not present,” Collins said.

The Winnebago County Board Chairman, Frank Haney, will select the next candidate. The full County Board will then vote next Tuesday.

If approved, the candidate will be sworn in on December 3rd and finish out Bruscato’s term, which is set to expire in 2020.

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