The race for state's attorney in Jasper County is between two similar candidates.
Dylan Hartigan, a Democrat, and Chad Miller, a Republican, are in their 30s, active in the Jasper County community, and have been working professionally in law for about 10 years.
Miller, who was appointed to the state's attorney position in February of 2015, said his career spent in criminal law sets him apart from Hartigan.
Hartigan, who has a general practice in Jasper County, said his hometown roots in Newton make him the right choice for state's attorney.
Following Kevin Parker's appointment to the Fourth Judicial Circuit bench as an associate judge, Miller was appointed as Jasper County's state's attorney.
Since taking over the job, Miller said he's developed a program to keep juveniles from becoming repeat offenders, more than doubled the amount of fines and court costs, shut down a methamphetamine production lab that led to 13 arrests, and instated a mandatory contribution to the sheriff's department and police department.
"I want to continue what we've been doing," he said. "I want to expand on our efforts of drug prosecution and strengthen our involvement in the drug court program."
Miller, 32, grew up in Richland County and graduated from East Richland High School. He then moved onto Olney Central College and later to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, graduating in December 2005 with a degree in history education.
He entered the SIU School of Law in the fall of 2006, serving as an assistant state's attorney in Hamilton County while still a law student. After his graduation, Miller worked for Coles County as an assistant state's attorney, for Illinois State's Attorney's Appellate Prosecutor's Office, and for a Mattoon law firm.
In the community, Miller is a member of the Newton Rotary Club and the Sons of the American Legion Squad No. 20. He's supportive of St. Thomas Catholic Church. He lives in rural Newton.
For the past 10 years, Hartigan has been an attorney at his Jasper County law firm Leffler & Hartigan.
Hartigan, running as a democrat, is seeking public office for the first time this fall.
"I've lived here my whole life," he said. "I know the people and have grown up with them. I'd use the Jasper County values I grew up with to guide me in my decision making as state's attorney."
Hartigan, 36, graduated from Newton Community High School in 1999. After high school, he went on to Eastern Illinois University, graduating with an economics degree in 2003. Then, in 2006, he got his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, passing the bar exam that year as well.
Hartigan is a member of St. Thomas Catholic Church, the Newton Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus 1704 in Newton, the Masonic Lodge, and the Jasper County Community Foundation.
Stan Polanski can be reached at email@example.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 131.