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County Board Chairman Frank Haney recommends Rosemary Collins for state’s attorney

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – Winnebago County Board Chairman recommended Judge Rosemary Collins interim state’s attorney Friday.

The recommendation will now go before the board on Tuesday. If approved, Collins will be sworn in Dec. 3, when current State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato is sworn in as circuit judge, a position she held for more 30 years.

“We had more than one qualified, outstanding candidate,” Haney said at a press conference Friday. “The burden when you have this many candidates is to pick the one you believe–when you factor in everything–best fits the needs of the community and the office at this time.”

Haney said Collins’ background as prosecutor, public defender and judge weighed heavily in her favor.

There were a total of six applicants interviewed for the elected position Collins will hold until 2020 if the appointment is approved by the board.

County Democrats, on Thursday, recommended Maryiln Hite Ross, who now leads the office’s criminal division.  Assistant prosecutors Wendy Larson, Paul Carpenter and Alison Meason also applied along with Rockford attorneys Rene Hernandez and Dan McGrail.

The county declined to interview Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Brun because he’s pulled Republican ballots in the county, leading officials to believe appointing him would violate state law the requires Bruscato’s successor to be a Democrat.

“All factors were taken into consideration,” Haney said. “There’s a lot to be proud of. I received feedback that respect and admire greatly. Part if this process included talking to folks in the public safety continuum. I wanted feedback on questions we should ask in the process. So, I was talking to people on the court side–not about the people but about the questions to make sure we fleshed out the right answers so we make the best recommendation possible.”

Some of the feedback Haney received during the selection process came  from Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, who praised Collins in a Nov. 13 letter.

“During her time on the bench, she has overseen and rendered verdicts in hundreds of high-profile and difficult cases,” the mayor wrote.”She has worked specifically to address the issues of family violence and crime prevention and understands the impact of the many issues facing our judicial and law enforcement system. She would, of course, bring that broad perspective to her work as the state’s attorney and is well aware of the public safety challenges facing our community.”

Collins has a reputation as an advocate against domestic violence and said Thursday she would work strongly with other community agencies to help children live crime-free lives. Her vision coincides with McNamara’s for a Family Justice Center and the city’s Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. R.

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