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Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 03:57 pm

Prosecutor faces voters

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Ron Stradt and John Milhiser

Ron Stradt says he’s running for Sangamon County state’s attorney to restore trust and integrity to government.

“If you work in the county building, you can get away with just about anything,” says Stradt, who got more than 46 percent of the vote four years ago when running for state’s attorney against John Schmidt, who is now a circuit court judge.

Incumbent John Milhiser, a Republican, says that his office is above reproach.
“Everyone is held to the same standard – if you commit a crime, then you’ll be prosecuted,” says Milhiser, who was appointed to his post nearly two years ago by the county board after Schmidt became a judge.

Under Milhiser’s watch, at least two county employees have been charged with crimes. Robert Redpath, a guard at the county jail, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery charges and resigned earlier this year after beating an inmate. Sherry Waldron, a county sheriff’s deputy, is now facing misdemeanor theft charges for allegedly stealing plants from a public park while on duty.
Stradt, who calls himself a conservative Democrat, says that he favors the right to carry concealed weapons and would not prosecute a person for carrying a concealed firearm if there were no other offenses more serious than a traffic offense involved. He also says he’s concerned about the state’s eavesdropping statute that makes it a crime to make an audio recording of a public employee without the employee’s consent. Courts have ruled that the law is unconstitutional, but it remains on the books.

“I think that if you are going to interact with a public official you should be able to put your iPhone right there and press ‘record,’” said Stradt, who is an on-staff attorney for the Illinois Education Association.

Milhiser doesn’t disagree. While he said he’s in favor of the right to carry concealed firearms and record public officials regardless of whether they give permission, he stopped short of saying that he would not prosecute someone for carrying a gun or recording a public employee. Rather, he said, every case must be evaluated on its merits.

“As state’s attorney, I don’t make the law, we enforce the law,” Milhiser said. “I’m confident that the voters understand the importance of the office and the importance of having an experienced prosecutor as their state’s attorney who’s in the courtroom trying cases.”
Stradt points out that the state’s attorney’s office handles civil legal matters for the county in addition to prosecuting criminals. If elected, Stradt said that he would try to recover $2.7 million spent on voting machines purchased in 2005 that can’t be used because the state board of elections ruled that they had not been sufficiently tested. It’s an issue that Stradt raised during his last run for state’s attorney, when Milhiser’s predecessor said that suing Populex, the vendor that sold the machines to the county, likely wouldn’t accomplish anything because the company didn’t have sufficient funds to pay a judgment.

Stradt also says that the county should take legal action to force banks and mortgage companies to pay fees to the recorder’s office that have been skipped when mortgages have been sold. At least two Illinois counties have sued lenders that have skipped payments by not recording mortgage transfers in recorder’s offices and instead keeping track of which entities hold mortgages through a national electronic database.

County recorder Josh Langfelder said that the county is owed as much as $600,000 by lenders that have not recorded mortgage transfers. Milhiser said he hasn’t ruled out a lawsuit and is monitoring litigation in counties that have sued lenders for not recording mortgage transfers.
Milhiser has raised $47,350 in campaign contributions, more than three times the amount raised by Stradt, according to records at the Illinois State Board of Elections. Stradt says he’s hoping his message and name familiarity from his 2008 campaign will carry him to victory.

“Forty-five thousand people in this county have voted for me already,” Stradt said.

Ron Stradt says he’s running for Sangamon County state’s attorney to restore trust and integrity to government.

“If you work in the county building, you can get away with just about anything,” says Stradt, who got more than 46 percent of the vote four years ago when running for state’s attorney against John Schmidt, who is now a circuit court judge.

Incumbent John Milhiser, a Republican, says that his office is above reproach.

“Everyone is held to the same standard – if you commit a crime, then you’ll be prosecuted,” says Milhiser, who was appointed to his post nearly two years ago by the county board after Schmidt became a judge.

Under Milhiser’s watch, at least two county employees have been charged with crimes. Robert Redpath, a guard at the county jail, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery charges and resigned earlier this year after beating an inmate. Sherry Waldron, a county sheriff’s deputy, is now facing misdemeanor theft charges for allegedly stealing plants from a public park while on duty.

Stradt, who calls himself a conservative Democrat, says that he favors the right to carry concealed weapons and would not prosecute a person for carrying a concealed firearm if there were no other offenses more serious than a traffic offense involved. He also says he’s concerned about the state’s eavesdropping statute that makes it a crime to make an audio recording of a public employee without the employee’s consent. Courts have ruled that the law is unconstitutional, but it remains on the books.

“I think that if you are going to interact with a public official you should be able to put your iPhone right there and press ‘record,’” said Stradt, who is an on-staff attorney for the Illinois Education Association.

Milhiser doesn’t disagree. While he said he’s in favor of the right to carry concealed firearms and record public officials regardless of whether they give permission, he stopped short of saying that he would not prosecute someone for carrying a gun or recording a public employee. Rather, he said, every case must be evaluated on its merits.

“As state’s attorney, I don’t make the law, we enforce the law,” Milhiser said. “I’m confident that the voters understand the importance of the office and the importance of having an experienced prosecutor as their state’s attorney who’s in the courtroom trying cases.”

Stradt points out that the state’s attorney’s office handles civil legal matters for the county in addition to prosecuting criminals. If elected, Stradt said that he would try to recover $2.7 million spent on voting machines purchased in 2005 that can’t be used because the state board of elections ruled that they had not been sufficiently tested. It’s an issue that Stradt raised during his last run for state’s attorney, when Milhiser’s predecessor said that suing Populex, the vendor that sold the machines to the county, likely wouldn’t accomplish anything because the company didn’t have sufficient funds to pay a judgment.

Stradt also says that the county should take legal action to force banks and mortgage companies to pay fees to the recorder’s office that have been skipped when mortgages have been sold. At least two Illinois counties have sued lenders that have skipped payments by not recording mortgage transfers in recorder’s offices and instead keeping track of which entities hold mortgages through a national electronic database.

County recorder Josh Langfelder said that the county is owed as much as $600,000 by lenders that have not recorded mortgage transfers. Milhiser said he hasn’t ruled out a lawsuit and is monitoring litigation in counties that have sued lenders for not recording mortgage transfers.

Milhiser has raised $47,350 in campaign contributions, more than three times the amount raised by Stradt, according to records at the Illinois State Board of Elections. Stradt says he’s hoping his message and name familiarity from his 2008 campaign will carry him to victory.

“Forty-five thousand people in this county have voted for me already,” Stradt said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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