Waukegan attorney Mike Nerheim said Tuesday he would seek justice rather than just obtain convictions if elected the next Lake County state's attorney.
Nerheim, a Republican from Gurnee, became the third candidate to declare his intention to replace retiring State's Attorney Michael Waller. His entry sets up a primary next year with at least one fellow Republican, Bryan Winter, for the party's nomination.
"I believe the office of state's attorney is one of the most important in government," Nerheim said Tuesday during a speech in the Lincoln Square at the County Building in Waukegan. "The job of a prosecutor should not be to merely obtain a conviction, but rather, a prosecutor's mission should be to seek justice."
An assistant prosector in Waller's office from 1999 to 2007, Nerheim is currently a partner of the law firm of Fox, Lunardi, Zeit and Nerheim, where he practices general law.
If elected, Nerheim said he would improve the state's attorney's office's communication with victims, expand the cyber crimes prosecution division and open lines of communication between the office and the public.
Nerheim said he believes politics should not play a role in the prosecutor's office, but said he has "Republican values" to bring to the post.
He said his service as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney will "allow me to see cases from both sides and seek swift justice for all citizens."
Nerheim said he would also create a public integrity unit within the office to specialize in the prosecution of official misconduct, public corruption and fraud.
He joins what leaders of both parties predicted would be a crowded field in the race to replace Waller, who last week announced that he would not be a candidate for re-election. Waller has held the office since 1990 and his retirement creates the first Lake County state's attorney's race without an incumbent since 1968.
Democrat Christopher Kennedy is also seeking the office.