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Ogle County Board rejects appointment recommendation for M. Thomas Suits

M. Thomas Suits
M. Thomas Suits

The Ogle County Board could not agree on a replacement Tuesday for state's attorney John B. "Ben" Roe, despite a committee recommendation to appoint a Polo attorney to the position.

"I thought the board would respect the committee process — apparently not," said board chairman Kim Gouker, Byron.

Following an hour-long closed session to discuss the appointment, the board rejected the selection committee's recommendation to appoint M. Thomas Suits, 62, by a vote of 11-13.

Gouker said he does not have a back-up plan at this point, but will review the state statutes to see how to deal with the situation.
Suits voiced disappointment over the outcome of the vote.

"I'm very disappointed, but I'm satisfied with the process," he said. "I'm very grateful to everyone who supported me and voted for me."
Suits was one of four candidates for the post who were interviewed last week by a committee made up of Gouker and four other members of the county board.

Gouker said Suits was the choice of all five committee members, who included board vice chairman John Finfrock, Mt. Morris, and board members Greg Sparrow, Rochelle, Bruce McKinney, Rochelle, and Bill Welty, Chana.

The other candidates for the position were Robin Minnis, Eric Morrow and Mike Rock. Minnis and Morrow are attorneys, and Rock is currently an assistant state's attorney. Minnis and Morrow formerly served as assistant state's attorneys.

McKinney, who cast one of the no votes, said he was concerned about Suits' lack of experience as a prosecutor.

"I believe that position needs a person experienced in prosecution," he said. "Mr. Suits has limited prosecutorial experience."

Suits has a private practice in Polo, and has served as the attorney for the City of Polo since 1991, prosecuting numerous cases in that capacity.

He also worked for the Ogle County State's Attorney's office as a senior law school student and for a time after he graduated law school at Northern Illinois University.

He worked felony cases with an assistant state's attorney during that time.

Not much time remains to name a successor for Roe, who will become a judge on Jan. 7, replacing retired Ogle County Circuit Judge Michael Mallon.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Roe to the judgeship on Nov. 8, two days after he was elected to a third therm as state's attorney.
Although Gouker has the authority to make the appointment, he opted to involve the county board in the process by appointing  the selection committee to make a recommendation for the full board's approval.

The person appointed will fill the first 2 years of Roe's 4-year term. Then the office will be up for election in November of 2014.

How they voted
Yes — Ron Colson, John Finfrock, Kim Gouker, Dan Janes, John O'Brien, Zach Oltmanns, Pat Saunders, Ashley Simms, Greg Sparrow, Marty Typer, Bill Welty

No — Dorothy Bowers, Jerry Brooks, Bobbie Colbert, Don Griffin, Rich Gronewold, Marcia Heuer, Lyle Hopkins, John Kenney, Kim Kirkolis, Bruce McKinney, Lee Meyers, Patricia Nordman, and Dick Petrizzo

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