Democratic candidates for Kane state's attorney differ over minor drug arrests
Two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Kane County state's attorney have sharp differences on whether police should make arrests for minor drug offenses.
The winner of the March 17 primary between Junaid "J" Afeef of Elgin and Jamie Mosser of St. Charles will face Republican Robert Spence in November. Incumbent Joe McMahon is not seeking a third full 4-year term.
In Daily Herald endorsement interviews and at a recent Elgin Area League of Women Voters forum in Carpentersville, the candidates spelled out their backgrounds and plans for what they would do if elected to the countywide post.
Afeef cited his 25 years of experience in a variety of roles, the most recent being prosecuting nursing home violations for the state's Department of Health, and stressed that the state's attorney needed to be more of an activist. He contended that the criminal justice system is broken.
Mosser, who worked as a Kane County prosecutor for 10 years before starting her own law firm and volunteering, touted her familiarity with the office and passion for community service.
But Mosser strongly disagrees with Afeef's stance that local police should stop arresting people for minor drug offenses.
Mosser said that sends the wrong message to police, who are enforcing the laws legislators crafted. She said an arrest can lead to treatment.
"To just give them a pass and not deal with it now I think is creating a system where we're not getting people into treatment as quickly as we can. What are we going to tell the police, who are enforcing criminal statutes?" Mosser said. "I do believe we need to go forward, but we need to be creative in how we prosecute them with initial diversion programs or using the Drug Rehabilitative Court to get to the root of the behavior."
Afeef says his policy aims to focus resources toward the most violent crimes.
"It's in those poor communities that we default to the criminal justice system as the resource that we use for people who are poor and disenfranchised to get them treatment, and that's fundamentally wrong," Afeef said. "This isn't an issue about respecting or disrespecting police officers. Police officers do an extraordinary job. This is about prioritizing how we use our resources."
Early voting has begun at certain locations and runs through March 16.