Korando, Liefer vying for state’s attorney

Here is a preview of the race for Monroe County state’s attorney between Democrat Celeste Korando and Republican Lucas Liefer ahead of the Nov. 3 election. 

Celeste Korando

Democrat candidate Celeste A. Korando is running for Monroe County State’s Attorney against Republican Lucas Liefer. 

She was born and raised in Southern Illinois, was valedictorian of her high school class, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Fontbonne University in 2001 and graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 2003. She has been a licensed attorney in Illinois since 2004. She was Assistant State’s Attorney in Jefferson County, Ill. for five years and handled “everything from traffic tickets to major murder cases.” 

Since 2011, she has handled criminal defense cases for indigent defendants in Monroe, Jackson and Union counties, with over 90 percent of her caseload being felony-level cases.

She is currently an Illinois State Bar Association member, Illinois State Bar Association alternative dispute resolution section council member, member of the local YMCA, Fast Fitness, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Monroe County Farm Bureau, Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church and member of the Waterloo Band Parents Organization. 

She and her husband Steven live in Waterloo. Their children Sarah, Caroline and Jacob attend the Waterloo school district.

Korando says she wants to be state’s attorney as she has “seen firsthand the need for an experienced and effective state’s attorney. I am that person. I have done hundreds of trials, including more than 50 felony jury trials,” claiming Liefer has done fewer than 10. 

“I want to see justice served for local victims of crime. I have worked closely with many law enforcement agencies to combat our increased criminal activity,” she added. 

If elected, Korando would like to establish an effective drug court in Monroe County.

“I will work closely with service providers and law enforcement to ensure that we have a successful drug court program to address many of the local substance abuse issues,” she said, adding she will “look to establish a juvenile diversion program for nonviolent first-time juvenile offenders.” 

Korando stated COVID-19 restrictions are a key issue.

“My opponent is a lifelong Democrat. He actively campaigned for Pritzker in 2018. As the Governor continues to put forth these questionable executive orders, we will need an effective state’s attorney to determine the legalities of enforcing said orders,” she said. 

Korando also pointed out that she, and not Liefer, lives in Monroe County. 

“My opponent claims to “be ready on day one,” but continues to live in Randolph County. Why hasn’t he bothered to move here if he cares so much about Monroe County? He doesn’t. He intends to remain in Randolph County and run the Monroe County State’s Attorney’s office from afar.” 

Korando also stated she has more than 10 times the experience of Liefer.

“We don’t need someone who has to learn how to handle major felony cases while on the job,” she said, adding “I already know how to run a state’s attorney’s office. I truly am the only candidate ready for the job on day one.” 

Lucas Liefer

Lucas Liefer is running for state’s attorney against Korando on the Republican ticket. 

He is currently a lawyer with Cooper & Liefer Law Office and is Assistant Monroe County State’s Attorney. He is a 2003 graduate of Red Bud High School, graduated with a bachelor degree magna cum laude from Southern Illinois University in 2008 and cum laude in 2011 from the university’s school of law.

Liefer, his wife Valerie and son Henry currently live in Red Bud.

Liefer says he has “always had an interest in public service and the goal of becoming state’s attorney. For those close to me it comes as no surprise that I am seeking the position. I am certainly not a newcomer to Monroe County. I have been practicing law in Monroe County since I became licensed in 2011,” citing his firm’s opening of an office in Columbia “to be able to serve our clients more effectively and efficiently.”

Liefer says his role as assistant state’s attorney has included being involved “in all aspects of the office from prosecuting felonies, working through the traffic docket and providing counsel to the county board and other elected offices.” 

He also added that trial work is a “great deal” of his practice he has “been in the criminal law sector since I began practicing, both privately and by appointment. Because I am a partner in a general practice firm, in addition to my trial experience, I am the only candidate with the foundation necessary to counsel Monroe County as a whole.”

Liefer said he hopes to continue current Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann’s work with local law enforcement to help combat rising drug-related crime – specifically methamphetamines – within Southern Illinois.

“Monroe County is a great county with safe communities,” he said, noting it is also growing. “It is important to stay ahead of the increasing case load and address the need for increased funding and personnel. The current state’s attorney and I have had multiple discussions and explored the option of establishing a specialized drug court to meet the demands of our county. I will continue to work toward establishing a specialized drug court to carry on my predecessors work.”

Liefer also said he has been working as a victim’s advocate in Monroe County and will continue to  provide “the most effective and efficient assistance to those impacted by violence and other crimes.”

“Also, being a county with a strong agriculture economy and many rural residents, it is important to continue to aggressively prosecute crimes that affect the property of our citizens,” he said.

Liefer wants Monroe County residents to vote for him because he has “the experience, work ethic and family values to best serve their interests as state’s attorney. As an assistant state’s attorney in the office I am running for, I will be able to hit the ground running and go to work on day one.”

For a video of the recent candidate forum, click here.

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