McMahon expected to get nod to replace Barsanti

A former prosecutor with experience in both criminal and civil court was recommended Wednesday to fill the unexpired term of Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti.

If approved by the county board later this month, Elgin attorney Joseph McMahon will take office Dec. 1, as Barsanti leaves for a judicial appointment in the 16th Circuit.

County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay recommended McMahon at a meeting of the county board's executive committee. She said he's “earned the respect of his peers” and appears best equipped for one of the county's top administrative jobs.

“We're not hiring some political hack here,” McConnaughay said.

McMahon was one of nine applicants seeking to fill Barsanti's term through Dec. 3, 2012, when the office will be up for election. Last month, he was named a finalist along with First Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Jody Gleason, who has worked for the office 18 years.

McMahon currently is a partner at the McMahon-Williams law firm in Geneva, where he handles civil and employment partnership disputes and some criminal cases.

He began his legal career as an intern with the Kane County state's attorney's office in the early 1990s and went on to become chief of the criminal division in 1998.

McMahon also holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and has been deputy chief of criminal prosecution for the Illinois attorney general.

McConnaughay said the process to select Barsanti's interim replacement was apolitical. Candidates interviewed with a panel of mostly retired judges and practicing attorneys before two finalists were named for McConnaughay to consider.

“I took an independent group and said, ‘Bring it down to two,' ” McConnaughay said. “I think that's taken the politics out of it. This next week (with a vote by the county board), there's a little bit of a gamble with that. Somebody could try to wreak all kinds of havoc if they want to. But I think I feel comfortable, and I think the board feels comfortable.”

Barsanti said he recommended Gleason but will “fully support” McMahon's appointment.

“I know Joe McMahon very well. I fully support Joe,” he said. “I think Joe will make a fine state's attorney, and (the county board) will be proud of that appointment.”

Gleason declined to comment Wednesday on whether she would seek the position when it comes up for election, but she said she appreciated being considered for the interim job.

“I look forward to working with Joe,” she said.