Appointee Faces Challenge in Putnam County State's Attorney Race

Image courtesy of the PJ Star
Putnam County voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to retain their appointed state’s attorney for a full four-year term or replace her with an attorney who has previously run unsuccessfully for that position and also a judge’s seat.

Republican Christina (Judd) Mennie of Hennepin is squaring off with Democratic challenger Bradley P. Popurella of McNabb for the job to which she was appointed in late 2014 after predecessor James A. Mack became a judge.

“I have served nearly two years as the Putnam County state’s attorney, and I have learned a lot over the course of time. I hope to continue in this position on behalf of the good citizens of Putnam County,” said Mennie, 38.

“I am seeking the office because I believe that I am the most qualified and experienced candidate,” said Popurella, 40. “I have worked with a diverse group of people, witnesses, and police officers, and believe my interpersonal relationships are key to effectively representing the citizens of Putnam County.”

Mennie began her legal career with the local Boyle and Bolin firm, where she also had worked as a student before earning her license in 2004, and then opened her own general practice in 2010. Her past experience has included serving as an assistant public defender and also as village attorney for Granville.

“Personally, I love the law, which is why I studied it. I want to make the personal effort through the state’s attorney’s office to see that it serves our people fairly and equitably,” she said. “I have been able to work well with law enforcement and other public officials. My record reflects that I am tough on crime, but am also able to deal well with first-time offenders via counseling and other programs that our probation department monitors with great detail.”

Popurella, who will mark the 15th anniversary of receiving his law license on Election Day, spent four years as an assistant state’s attorney in LaSalle County and then eight years with Anthony C. Raccuglia & Associates before opening his own firm in 2013. He also has been an assistant public defender in Bureau County since 2015.

“I have tried jury trials throughout north central Illinois. I have argued before the Third District Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court,” said Popurella, who lost to Mack in races for state’s attorney in 2012 and resident circuit judge in 2014. “I know what it takes to make successful presentations before a judge and a jury.”

Both candidates referred to the ongoing high-profile case in which a Bureau County woman who had been missing for three weeks was found last month in a shallow grave in the small community of Standard. Her brother-in-law has so far been charged with concealment of a homicidal death, but authorities have indicated other charges will be forthcoming.

“Recently my plate has been very full with the ongoing investigation in Standard,” Mennie said. “Since it is an ongoing investigation, I cannot comment too much on that issue, but we have adjusted. There are more times now than earlier on in my term that I am working on nights and weekends, and I will continue to do whatever is needed.”

Popurella, citing the possibility of a murder charge in what was only the third felony case filed in the small county this year, sought to position himself as the best prepared to deal with such circumstances.

“I have worked on murder investigations and trials while I was in the LaSalle County state’s attorney’s office,” he said. “I know and am prepared to put in the long hours that the citizens of Putnam County deserve to seek justice for everyone, regardless of your social status, who you know, or what your last name is.”

Both candidates also are involved in volunteer community service. Mennie serves on the Putnam County Board of Health, and she and her husband, Scott, and other family members are active in the Hennepin Betterment Association, a not-for-profit that pursues projects to improve the village.

“I think the majority of people who know me know that I will always put Putnam County first,” she said. “I have a true and unwavering commitment to the place that I have called home my entire life. I think it is the best place to live and want it to continue to be that for generations to come.”

Popurella has a long history as a volunteer firefighter, including the past five years as chief in McNabb. His wife, Kristina, is a member of the Putnam County School Board and Putnam County Planning Commission.

“I moved to this county over a decade ago. I have built my business here, and I have served the public here,” he said. “I want to be (the) state’s attorney, and I will work relentlessly to make this a county a safe place to raise our families.”

Source: Peoria Journal Star