By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato on Monday said that he will the seek the position of 17th Judicial Circuit Court judge in the Nov. 2018 election.
If he is elected, Bruscato would replace the retiring Judge Rosemary Collins.
Bruscato has been state’s attorney since 2008 when he succeeded Phil Nicolosi, who lost to Chuck Prorock in the primary. Bruscato defeated Prorock with 52 percent of the vote and was reelected in 2012 and 2016 when he announced that he would not seek another term.
Bruscato, 55, said he contemplated several career options, including a possible run for Illinois attorney general and U.S. Congress.
“I was humbled that people who were willing to talk to me about those opportunities,” Bruscato said at a press conference Monday at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 364 headquarters in Rockford.
He wasn’t ready to decide right away, however. There were life changes to consider and which move would best serve him professionally and personally. After several conversations with his wife, friends and advisers, the Democrat said he decided that a judgeship was the best fit.
“I decided that I could best continue to serve our community by making myself available for election,” the 1980 Boylan graduate said. “As of today, I am a candidate.”
After graduating from Marquette University College of Law, he served as assistant district attorney in Brown County, Wisconsin from 1987 to 1988, and assistant city attorney in Green Bay for a year after that. He returned to Rockford and became assistant attorney general in the Rockford Regional Office of the Attorney General from 1989 to 1994, serving as director for two years. Bruscato was in private practice from 1994 to 2000 and spent eight years in the City of Rockford legal department before becoming Winnebago County state’s attorney.
The 17th Judicial Circuit Court serves Boone and Winnebago counties. Judges serve six-year terms. Collins became the circuit’s first female judge in 1989.
“Judge Collins has championed the rights of women and of children,” Bruscato said, referring to work she has done as a domestic violence advocate. “She has worked hard and tirelessly to see that the abuses that have gone on with regards to women and children are corrected. I have appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to work with her. I’ve worked with her to ensure that the office of the state’s attorney is responsive to the needs of women and children.”
Collins, 63, is retiring next December. R.