The battle to be the Republican nominee for attorney general pits a suburban resident who has served as a mayor and county board member against a Central Illinois resident who has served on Illinois Supreme Court advisory panels and a criminal justice reform group.
Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge said he has the litigation and political experience that makes him the right person for the job.
“I’ve been successful at law and politics,” Grasso said. “As a Republican, it is the right time for me to run. I have the right experience for the job.”
Erika Harold of Urbana said she would bring a fresh perspective to the post and has the electability to win against whoever is the Democratic primary winner.
“As an attorney, I have always stood up for other people,” Harold said. “That is what I am all about. I will also tackle corruption and the opioid epidemic.”
Harold said her work on the board of directors of Prison Fellowship, an outreach to prisoners and their families, has given her insights into criminal justice reform,
“I have the criminal justice perspective,” Harold said. “We need public safety, but we also need the recidivism rates to go down.”
She pointed to her appointments to the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equity and the court’s Commission on Professionalism as examples of the respect she has earned in the state’s legal community.
Harold said she has the electability to win in November, noting she got in the race before Lisa Madigan announced she would not run for re-election.
Grasso points to his 39 years as a litigator as a reason to make him the Republican nominee.
He served as mayor of Burr Ridge for eight years and had two terms on the DuPage County Board, including being chairman of the county’s 911 Board.
“I repurposed savings from the 911 system. I saved DuPage residents a lot of money,” Grasso said. “I have all the tools that an attorney general needs. Only a Republican can go after the political corruption in the state.”
He said he has “the fire in the belly” to make the office work on behalf of all the residents of Illinois.
Grasso said he would direct the office to target the Cook County property tax assessment system. “People have been dragged down by the system for 30 years,” Grasso said.
“No Democrat is going to go after the ills of this state,” Grasso said. “The real cause of problems in the high property taxes. Well-minded Democrats understand that the state needs me as attorney general to make things right.”
The former Burr Ridge mayor said he would also repurpose the office to put more attention on the opioid crisis plaguing the state.
Harold said she does not view the position as a political office, but one that needs to maintain its independence.
The former Miss America said she wants the office to be more of a voice for all residents of Illinois.
She also wants to put more of a focus on political corruption in the state.
“Political corruption has been rampant. It undermines performances in the state and downgrades our economy,” Harold said. “Our economic opportunities are drying up because of it.”
Harold said Grasso promotes the type of “me-first” politics that has gotten Illinois into the predicament it is currently in.
She noted that as mayor of Burr Ridge, Grasso said he wanted to be on the DuPage County Board as well.
“Even with the State’s Attorney’s Office issuing an opinion that he couldn’t hold both office, he persisted,” Harold said. “It took a referendum to get him to stop. The referendum was 90 (percent)-10 (percent) not to allow it. He put county residents through that because he wanted to hold both offices. It was double dipping. He persisted as long as he could.”
Grasso said that Harold is not an experienced lawyer, having only practiced for 10 years and being off two of those years.
“She has a thin resume as a lawyer. I only see 12-15 cases where she has filed appearances. I’ve not been able to find one trial she has done,” Grasso said. “She has not run an office. She is not even an equity partner in her own firm. What does it say when your peers don’t make you a partner?
“She might be suited to run for other offices, but she is not qualified to be attorney general. It is the state’s second largest office, with 350-plus lawyers. How is someone who has not litigated cases going to lead the office?”
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