Spence stresses experience as lawyer, judge in bid for Kane state's attorney

You can't teach experience and Robert Spence, the first candidate to announce for the Republican nomination for Kane County state's attorney, says he has an abundance of it.

Spence, 64, of Batavia, stressed his service as a former prosecutor, a Kane County judge, the chief judge of the Kane County 16th Judicial Circuit and justice in the 2nd District appellate court as reasons why he should be the next top law enforcement officer in the county.

"This should be a race about ideas but it really should be about experience," said Spence, who retired from his appellate post last week to run for the office. "It's the experience that really defines the race and sets me apart from the others."

A new state's attorney will be elected in November 2020.

Joe McMahon, who was appointed as state's attorney in late 2010 and reelected in 2012 and 2016 after running unopposed, is not seeking a third, 4-year term.

McMahon has done a good job, said Spence, who stressed he wants to build on that work, such as continuing pretrial diversion programs for first-time, nonviolent offenders.

"There's always more that can be done. The person who comes after me is going to say the same thing," Spence said. "Diversion programs are good. The main idea is how do we keep our community safe but at the same time provide help to people who need help."

If elected, Spence would increase training for police and prosecutors with the goal of reducing overturned cases, which can be costly to prosecute again. Spence said court cases are reversed at an appellate level because of errors made by police, prosecutors or judges. "We can do something about two of those three (causes of error)," he said.

Spence sees his background of prosecuting complex cases, overseeing trials and appellate court work as enabling him to see the big picture and exercise the discretion needed for the job.

"Every case is unique, but at the same time, you need to look at trends and exercise sound discretion," he said.

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