McMahon looks forward to working for the people

Joe McMahon's name didn't appear on any ballot last week, but he still had reason to celebrate a future in public office.

That's because Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay gave McMahon a vote of confidence and her recommendation in the race to replace John Barsanti, who steps down as state's attorney Dec. 1 to become a 16th Circuit judge.

McMahon, 44, of Plato Center, is expected to be confirmed Tuesday by the full county board. If the appointment is approved, he will be interim state's attorney through 2012, when he says he plans to seek office the old-fashioned way.

“If I'm the next state's attorney,” McMahon said Thursday, “I will run for election at the appropriate time.”

A former prosecutor with experience in civil court, McMahon beat out eight other candidates to win McConnaughay's recommendation for the top law enforcement position in the county.

He said he was “honored, humbled” to be selected from a slate of “such talented and experienced lawyers.”

McMahon said he has no immediate plans to change anything in the office; his first priority is getting to know his way around again.

“Once I get in there, of course, I'm going to look to meet every assistant state's attorney, all the staff, and we'll go from there,” he said. “I'm looking forward to continuing a lot of the work and programs that John (Barsanti) has put into place.”

McMahon began his legal career in 1991 interning at the state's attorney's office. He went on the next year to land a job as a prosecutor and, by 1998, was chief of the criminal division.

At the end of 2000, McMahon left to work for the Illinois attorney general as deputy chief of criminal prosecution. He later joined Hinshaw and Culbertson, a national law firm with offices in Chicago and Lisle, before venturing into private practice and eventually partnering with attorney Richard Williams to create the McMahon-Williams law firm in Geneva.

McMahon, a married father of three, said he's excited to return to criminal prosecution because he will be “working directly for the people, protecting the public, and defending the rights of victims.”

“It's a unique responsibility and really an honor,” he said. “You touch a lot of lives every day when you're state's attorney.”

New civil chiefs: In other news at the state's attorney's office, Assistant State's Attorneys Joe Lulves and Michele Niermann have been promoted to lead the civil division.

Lulves, an assistant since 2000, was tapped last week to succeed outgoing Civil Division Chief Katherine Moran, who's been appointed associate judge in the 16th Circuit. Niermann, who has been with the office since 1995, will back up Lulves as deputy chief of the civil division.

Barsanti's office said Lulves has been responsible for inmate litigation and county tax litigation as an assistant in the civil division. Niermann specializes in environmental, employment and labor law.

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