McHenry County state's attorney hopefuls differ on budget, staff cuts

  • Democrat Ray Flavin, left, and Republican Patrick Kenneally are candidates for McHenry County state's attorney.

    Democrat Ray Flavin, left, and Republican Patrick Kenneally are candidates for McHenry County state's attorney.

 
 
Updated 10/8/2016 7:12 PM

Two candidates seeking to become the next McHenry County state's attorney have different visions of how they would reduce the office's budget and staff.

Voters Nov. 8 will choose a new state's attorney because Lou Bianchi is not seeking a fourth four-year term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Patrick Kenneally, McHenry County first assistant state's attorney, is running as a Republican; Ray Flavin, a Woodstock defense attorney, is running as a Democrat.

The office currently employs 36 lawyers and 60 total staff members.

Kenneally, who has worked in Bianchi's office since 2007 and has his endorsement, wants to cut the office's budget by 10 percent, or $300,000, over the next four years.

That would include cutting lawyer positions in the criminal division from 28 to 26, moving one attorney in the civil division to do in-house negotiations with county unions, reduce the number of office vehicles from eight to four, and move attorney training in-house.

Kenneally said the office uses attorneys from a Chicago firm to handle labor disputes, and continuing legal education for staff members can be provided locally instead of spending $20,000 a year on conferences.

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"The McHenry County Bar Association is something we are not taking advantage of," said Kenneally, noting the bar association offers yearly continuing legal education for attorneys at lower costs than some training seminars.

Flavin wants to reduce the number of attorneys handling criminal cases from 28 to 22 and leave the number of attorneys in the civil division at eight. Flavin contends that violent crime and overall crime is down.

"As a result, we have a lot of extra people to address a workload we don't have," Flavin said. "We should get the advantage of crime being less in McHenry County. The taxpayers should get the benefit of that decrease."

Flavin is OK with using attorneys from a Chicago firm to help with labor cases and says continuing legal education -- which is required for lawyers each year -- can be accomplished through a variety of avenues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kenneally contends the workload for attorneys has increased as the office has taken an "aggressive stance" against DUIs and domestic battery offenses.

Kenneally said if Flavin cuts six attorney positions, it would reduce the staff to a "skeleton crew" and defense attorneys would be more inclined to go to trial because prosecutors could be overburdened with cases and possibly unprepared.

Early voting runs through Oct. 21 at the McHenry County clerk's office and Oct. 24 to Nov. 7 at other locations.

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