Gurnee Republican announces bid for Lake County state's attorney's office

Mary Cole, a Gurnee Republican, announced this week she is running for Lake County state's attorney in the November 2024 election.

Cole, 39, owns a Gurnee-based law firm and has worked at the Williamson County state's attorney's and the DeKalb County public defender's offices. From 2019 to 2021, she was a Lake County assistant state's attorney.

Cole said she left the office because of incumbent State's Attorney Eric Rinehart.

"The current office holder has turned this once proud office into his own political playground for his extreme ideas that do not focus on the safety of Lake County residents," Cole said Tuesday.

Rinehart, a Highwood Democrat, said Cole is receiving support from the same people who were in office during wrongful prosecutions.

"My opponent would revive a culture that jailed innocent men and allowed the guilty to go free," Rinehart said. "Lake County will never go back to a time when rogue prosecutors ruled our legal system."

Cole's campaign spokesman Lee Filas said Cole is not affiliated with any of the wrongful convictions that previously occurred in that office.

"In fact, bringing it up clearly shows Mr. Rinehart is trying to divert attention away from simple truths he can't argue: Lake County is not safer than it was 2.5 years ago," Filas said.

Rinehart won his first term after defeating incumbent Republican Mike Nerheim in the November 2020 election. He became the first Democrat to serve as the county's top prosecutor in 40 years. Rinehart announced he would seek a second term in June.

Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart, a Highwood Democrat, is seeking reelection to a second term.
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