Republican Bryan Kibler came close to unseating a two-term incumbent state's attorney in the 2008 general election.
This year, Effingham County State's Attorney Ed Deters has opted not to run for a fourth term. But Kibler doesn't have a free ride into the state's attorney's office.
That's because attorney Deborah Niebrugge Reimers has thrown her hat into the ring as the Democratic candidate.
While Reimers and Kibler have been practicing law for about the same amount of time, Reimers began law school at age 42 after many years in health care administration. Kibler, on the other hand, was still in his 20s when he challenged Deters in 2008.
The state's attorney has a two-fold role: to prosecute criminal activity in the county, as well as advise the Effingham County Board on legal issues.
Reimers lives in rural Effingham, while Kibler lives in Effingham.
With three years legal experience, Effingham attorney Bryan Kibler nearly unseated two-term State's Attorney Ed Deters in the 2008 general election, losing by only 260 votes out of more than 16,000 cast.
Four years later, Deters isn't running for a fourth term and Kibler says he is easily the most qualified candidate in this year's race.
"I am the only candidate with jury trial experience," Kibler said. "In fact, I am the only candidate with a specialization in criminal law.
"My opponent (Deborah Niebrugge Reimers) used to refer criminal cases to me when we were sharing office space," he said. "I have tried everything from Class X felonies to DUI's.
"I have made almost daily appearances in the criminal courtroom."
Kibler, 32, said the most important issues are keeping the community safe; combating the use of illegal drugs, especially heroin; and providing adequate resources for juvenile cases.
Kibler said he has some ideas on how to reduce the juvenile caseload in the state's attorney's office.
"I would like to increase the use of diversion programs for juveniles," he said.
But it's not only juveniles that Kibler would like to see diversionary programs for.
"I would like to initiate diversionary programs for military veterans who get in trouble," he said.
Kibler said he would also like to beef up the relationship between the state's attorney's and the people working in his office.
"I would like to provide more direction and communication between the state's attorney and the office," he said.
Kibler received a bachelor's degree in political science from Northern Illinois University and his law degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale.
In addition to maintaining a private practice in Effingham, Kibler has also served as the lead public defender in Jasper County and a conflict public defender in Jasper and Effingham counties.
Kibler is a member of the National Rifle Association, Effingham Sportsman's Club, Effingham Lions Club and is a licensed Illinois High School Association footbal official.
Kibler and wife Jennifer have two children and live in Effingham.
Even though her opponent questions her alleged lack of criminal law experience, Deborah Niebrugge Reimers said she has more than enough overall experience to serve as the next Effingham County state's attorney.
Reimers, 52, said she has represented more than 2,800 clients during seven years as an attorney spending most of her time in criminal and family law.
"I have hundreds of clients who trust me to do their work," she said.
The Democrat said she has a verifiable conservative pedigree.
"First of all, I am pro-life and have served on the board of the Family Life Center," she said.
"Secondly, I am pro-guns. I grew up around guns. Finally, I have years of service to this community, including years on non-profit boards."
Reimers said her reign as state's attorney will be a departure from previous norms.
"It will not be business as usual," she said. "People want a strong prosecutor who will not plead out cases. I will not plead out cases without feedback from victims and law enforcement."
Reimers said local police have been questioning some of the decisions made in the state's attorney's office.
"What law enforcement is telling me is that they don't know what will happen," she said.
Reimers said none of her proposed changes will happen overnight.
"All this will take time," she said. "None of these changes are going to cost anything, it's just going to take time."
Reimers said she would be responsive to the public.
"People want a state's attorney who will be available and address their concerns," she said.
Reimers said she would place a higher priority on juvenile cases.
"Juvenile cases are going to move up on the back burner," he said. "Service providers need to communicate better and the state's attorney's office can be the contact point for that."
Reimers is a graduate of St. Anthony High School. She received a bachelor's degree in medical technology from Indiana State University and an MBA from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. After nearly 20 years in health care administration, she began law school at age 42 and eventually earned a law degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Since then, she has been practicing law in Effingham.
Reimers and husband Dick have four grown children between them, three hers and one his. They live in rural Effingham.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at email@example.com.