Straight Talk | Courthouse challenges



As the various county departments are busy preparing budgets for 2020, there are other challenges in the Courthouse. The County Board appropriately approved the recommendations of chairman Andrew Rand to fill the vacancies created with the deaths of State’s Attorney Jerry Brady, County Clerk Steve Sonnemaker and board member Dr. Greg Adamson. Jodie Hoos was an easy choice to take over the state’s attorney’s office because she has been there and worked with Brady on many cases including the most famous, the murder trial of Nathan Leuthold who was found guilty of murdering his wife on Valentine’s Day.

Hoos is articulate, well-spoken, well-liked and has been on both sides of the legal system. Like Brady, who gave up a lucrative legal practice to become the county’s top law officer, Hoos is leaving a virtual life-time guaranteed job and income to become a prosecutor for a lower paying salary while working long and late hours on behalf of the citizens of Peoria County. I recently asked her, “Are you nuts?” She just laughed and said, “This is what I want to do; to follow in the footsteps of a man I respected and admired.”

She plans to begin her duties after presiding over trials expected to end this month. Hoos will seek the Democrat nomination for the office next March. She’ll be opposed by local attorney Chris McCall. McCall announced his plans to run for the office at a news conference held in his North Street offices Aug. 11. McCall has been in private practice since 2005 and has been a hearing officer for Peoria Public Schools. He had applied for the state’s attorney’s position along with Hoos, but was not selected. Most Democrats I talked to said Hoos will win the March primary and be elected in November.

County Board members chose fellow colleague Rachael Parker to replace the late Steve Sonnemaker as County Clerk. Unlike Hoos, the vote for the District 5 representative was not unanimous. Two Republicans did not vote for her and a third abstained. Rumor is some on the board, including many who voted for her, were really for Gabe McLeod. McLeod didn’t get the job. Parker, who operates a cupcake shop, did. McLeod, who has worked with and for Sonnemaker for 12 years, wasted no time in announcing his candidacy for County Clerk in the March primary.

Despite local media reports, Parker apparently will run for the Democrat nomination. Print and electronic news reports said Parker agreed to not seek election to the office next year. Sources tell us that she’s denied telling board chairman Rand that she made such a commitment. She will run. Based on the wide support McLeod received at his news conference at the Lariat, McLeod is expected to win over Parker who has served as Economic Development officer for Chillicothe for the past seven plus years. She served on the board of Peoria Public Schools after defeating former County Board member Bill O’Brien by fewer than 30 votes.

Elsewhere in the Courthouse, sparks are expected to fly when County Auditor Jessica Thomas presents her budget for 2020. Rumors indicate Thomas is talking about an $800,000 increase for the office. She has been at war with the county board since her election to an office the late Steve Sonnemaker once held after he served on the county board.

A big success

I’m sure a lot of the leaders of PACE were nervous when they held their 38th annual Taste of Peoria at, of all places, the parking lot of Northwoods Mall. It was a big gamble, but it paid off. Everyone I talked with said it was a big success. Parking, obviously, was very convenient as was the location. It was easy in and easy out. The food was great and so was the entertainment. Some told me there were a lot of families in attendance this year. Could it be they felt safer in this part of the city? Expect it to be held again in the same location next year. We heard the folks at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie would like to host the event in the future. Proceeds from the Taste of Peoria are used by the Peoria Area Community Events group to fund the annual Santa Parade.

Pride for Peoria Police

I have more than 50 years of experience in news reporting. I was news director for WPEO in Peoria and WJIL in Jacksonville, Ill., and did sports reporting and play-by-play for American Forces Network (AFN) for close to two years in Germany for an estimated radio audience of 55 million people. For 25 years, I wrote and distributed news releases to local and national media and have written and produced the news for “Breakfast with Roger and Friends” on WAZU-FM 90.7. I’ve covered a lot of stories involving the police. We’re fortunate to have the men and women who’ve made the commitment to protect us. These are dangerous times. We have more people of all ages carrying guns and doing bad things right here in River City. There are no gun laws today or tomorrow that will make us safer. What we do have are men and women who put their lives on the line every day to make us safer. Whenever I see and meet someone in military uniform, I thank them for their service. Beginning today, I’m going to say the same to our police, whether it’s in Peoria, Morton, Pekin, Washington or wherever. How about joining me.

Quote of the month

“A good marriage is when you’re married not to someone you can live with, but to someone you really cannot live without.” –– Dr. Howard Hendricks

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