Candidates explain how they would serve county

Interview with Julia Rietz

Daily Illini: Why are you running for Champaign County State’s Attorney?

Julia Rietz: I am proud to serve Champaign County as State’s Attorney. It is in my opinion the best job an attorney can have. I have accomplished a great deal in the four years that I’ve been State’s Attorney and I’m looking forward to continuing working on behalf of the citizens of Champaign County.

DI: How are you going to improve the office?

JR: I believe I have improved the office significantly during my first term. We’ve made many changes from the prior administration, and I plan on continuing with the good work that we’ve done. I am also interested in concentrating on juvenile delinquency prevention. There’s a new program that we’re looking at bringing to Champaign County called “Parenting with Love and Limits.” It’s focused on parent education, which we’re hoping will help us provide tools to parents who are struggling with how to deal with their teenagers.

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DI: What are some key issues for you?

JR: The primary focus of the State’s Attorney’s race, in my opinion, is that the people of Champaign County have the opportunity to vote for someone who is an experienced prosecutor, someone who brings a balanced perspective to the office and who focuses on the representation of victims and law abiding citizens in order to help ensure that our community is safe.

Q: Why are you better than your opponent?

A: I’m a prosecutor. I approach the job with the perspective of a prosecutor, which means that I respect the rights of those who are accused of crime, but my primary focus is the people who are victimized. First and foremost, my job is to stand up for them.

Q: How are you going to affect the University and it’s students?

A: University students live in Champaign County. When crime occurs on campus, the decisions we make in the State’s Attorney’s office affect students, whether it is because they are victims of crime or whether it is because they are accused. Having a balanced approach to prosecution affects University students. Understanding that young people can make bad decisions and giving them the opportunity to go forward and be productive students if they accept responsibilty, while at the same time taking a strong stance on serious crime on campus like sexual assaults, drug crime and physical assaults. As a rule, I treat high publicity cases the same as I treat every other case.

Q: Why should a student on campus vote for you?

A: Because I have proven myself over the past four years as State’s Attorney, because I am a strong prosecutor, because I understand the issues that they face, and because I value the role of the University in our community.

Interview with Janie Miller-Jones

Daily Illini: Why are you running for Champaign County State’s Attorney?

Janie Miller-Jones: Well, for several reasons. I’m running because as a public defender I see the discrepancies and the unfairness that’s coming out of the State’s Attorney’s office, basically with the way cases are being charged and with plea negotiations. They’re very unfair, and in order to make things change, I needed to run for state’s attorney to change that.

DI: What are some key issues for you?

JM-J: One is obviously the consistency in charging and the fairness of the plea negotiations. I think the state’s attorney’s office isn’t as involved as it should be in the community. Sometimes the state’s attorney feels like, ‘oh, I’m the one in charge, I get to make all the decisions, so it’s my way or the highway,’ which to a certain extent is true, except that you’re an elected official. You need to actually do what your public wants you to do. They’re the ones you want to protect.

DI: How will you do what the public wants?

JM-J: I’m going to have what I call a “charging division” to make sure that all the cases that come in are fair and consistent and I can set up procedures and policies so anyone who comes to charge the cases can follow those parameters. Also, I want to cross train people, so everybody in the office knows what the policies are and anybody can step in at any given time and charge in a way that is consistent.

Also, something I disagree with is the State’s attorney has only prosecuted four or five criminal felony cases herself since she’s been in office. I plan on carrying a caseload and actually prosecuting on a regular basis, not just being an administrator for the office.

Q: Why are you better than your opponent?

A: One, I think I have more courtroom experience than she has. I’ve tried well over 50 criminal felony cases, I have my military experience, plus I think the fact of being a public defender, I have to deal with a lot of the same people the State’s Attorney deals with. I see the people that come through the door as people not just criminals. I don’t just attach number or a crime to them.

Q: How are you going to affect the University and its students.

A: I know the University has a punishment process that they go through when someone commits a crime. I don’t believe in punishing a person twice. So If the University is punishing them and it’s similar to a punishment that I would believe is appropriate as state’s attorney, then I would work very strongly with the University to make sure that person is only punished once, instead of twice.

Q: Why should student on campus vote for you?

A: The state’s attorney has a lot of power over what happens with your future. I have different experiences than the current state’s atty. I acknowledge there are lots of problems in the state’s attorney’s office that need to be fixed. She claims there aren’t a lot problems. I think I bring a lot of courtroom and trial experience and I bring a lot more to the table. I think people want their state’s attorney to be firm and harsh, but also to be equitable and consistent.