There will be at least one contested county race in 2020, as Democrat Celeste A. Korando announced she is running for Monroe County State’s Attorney.
As things currently stand, Korando would run against Republican incumbent Chris Hitzemann in the general election next November.
“I am the ideal candidate for the office of Monroe County State’s Attorney,” Korando, 40, said. “I have spent my entire legal career either working in a state’s attorney’s office or working against state’s attorney’s offices.”
A Waterloo resident and Jefferson County, Illinois, native, Korando currently works out of her Murphysboro office, practicing criminal law across southern Illinois.
She graduated magna cum laude from Fontbonne University in St. Louis in 2001 before graduating from law school in December 2003 from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
She became a licensed attorney in Illinois in May 2004.
After law school, Korando, moved to Idaho, where she worked in a public defender’s office.
It was during her time there that an individual filed a complaint against Korando, saying she was practicing law without being an attorney.
She had not passed the Idaho bar examination at that point, so she was working as a legal intern.
The title of attorney was crossed out on paperwork and legal intern had been written in, but the person still filed the complaint, according to Korando.
That resulted in the Idaho State Bar Association giving Korando a non-public, informal admonishment, which she described as “basically saying this is next to nothing.”
The Illinois State Bar Association does not have such a step, so in a reciprocal judgment it reprimanded Korando for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
A reprimand is the lowest form of discipline from the association, with only five of the 79 disciplinary actions taken last year being reprimands, according to the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission’s annual report.
A reprimand signifies the lawyer in question has done something improper but does not impact the attorney’s right to practice.
So, since then, Korando has worked as an assistant state’s attorney in her home county beginning in March 2006. She focused on major felony cases.
In 2011, Korando opened her own office, which she said has handled over 600 felony cases and 400 juvenile delinquency cases.
“I have prosecuted well over 1,000 felony cases,” she said. “My experience is right up there with some of the top criminal attorneys in Illinois.”
She also said she has worked hard to stay abreast of the always changing laws by taking courses on topics like trial advocacy and attending a national seminar focused on drug crime.
The Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church member also volunteers by serving on the First Judicial Circuit’s Juvenile Justice Council and ISBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Section Council.
“I am able to hit the ground running from day one,” Korando said. “There will be no learning curve for me to efficiently and effectively run the office.”
If elected, Korando’s goals include maintaining excellent working relationships with law enforcement, educating the community and maintaining an effective drug court program.
More concretely, she said she aims to have a 100 percent trial success rate, ensure that violent offenders get “a stiff prison sentence,” give every police officer in the county her personal cell phone number and “eradicate the illegal drug trade in Monroe County.”
Korando said she is also a supporter of the Second Amendment.
“Although the state’s attorney doesn’t pass laws, I will do everything within my powers to ensure that those legislators that do pass laws don’t infringe on our constitutional rights,” she pledged.
Korando and her husband, Steven, have three children. She has family members who have lived and worked in Monroe County for about 100 years.