Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon will not seek re-election

After a decade of serving as Kane County's chief legal and law enforcement officer, State's Attorney Joe McMahon announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election next year.

The Elgin Republican first was elected in 2010. He released a statement Tuesday informing his staff he would not run again.

"I saw this as an opportunity when I became state's attorney to provide some leadership within Kane County and I've done my best to try to provide that," McMahon told the Daily Herald. "It's not like it is my office to hold onto forever. It's been an incredible run."

Under his leadership, McMahon's office was the first in Illinois to provide crisis intervention training for police officers who handle mental health situations, he said, noting the county also is working to create a crisis stabilization unit. He has worked closely with the county board and other elected department leaders on several initiatives, including saving the county's child support program during a state budget impasse and boosting the pay for prosecutors and public defenders.

McMahon and his staff also successfully prosecuted some of the "most dangerous and violent criminals" in the county's history - and they did so under budget each year, he said in the written statement.

"My job ... has been to seek justice. Sometimes that meant pursuing severe penalties for severe crimes, and sometimes it meant offering second chances to good people who made poor choices," McMahon said in the statement. "Justice is not an exact science, and what seems heavy-handed to some may seem lenient to others."

In 2016, McMahon was appointed to prosecute the first-degree murder trial of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

His decision to accept the role met with mixed reactions, including criticism from Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen for the time McMahon and his staff spent on the case. But McMahon said he maintained a single goal of finding the truth and pursuing justice.

"That case was a test of our justice system," he said. "I am proud that I was selected to handle such an important case and incredibly proud of the work that my staff and I put into that prosecution."

In his statement, McMahon acknowledged his office has been at odds before with other county officeholders and members of both political parties.

"Neither my independence nor my disagreements have arisen out of personal animosity or politics," he said, "but instead have been motivated by my belief in the rule of the law."

McMahon's term expires in late 2020. He made the announcement now, he said, to give interested candidates enough time to pursue the office and to allow residents to vet their options.

"It is my hope that my successor maintains the integrity, professionalism and commitment to justice that has been so important to me and my colleagues over the last 10 years," he said in the statement. "The citizens of Kane County deserve no less."

• Daily Herald staff writer Doug Graham contributed to this report.

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