(Waukegan, IL) – Today, Eric Rinehart announced his re-election bid for the Democratic nomination for Lake County State’s Attorney in the March 2024 primary election. 

At the announcement, several of Lake County’s prominent leaders spoke about Rinehart’s accomplishments and the need to have him re-elected. They included Illinois State Senator Adriane Johnson, Illinois State Representative Bob Morgan, Lake County Board President Sandy Hart, Lake County Clerk Anthony Vega, and Lake County Democrats Chair Lauren Beth Gash. The event was also attended by various Illinois State Senators and Representatives, Lake County Board members and county officials, and community leaders.

The following is the transcript from State’s Attorney Rinehart’s announcement:

“Friends, four years ago, I began a journey that changed my life forever when I announced my campaign for Lake County State’s Attorney. It would be a tough road as we campaigned through COVID and at a time when it had been 40 years since Lake County had elected a Democrat to be the people’s representative in the courts … 

I am so humbled to be standing here with so many of my friends who helped us cross the finish line in 2020 … 

Our goal was and remains: to make our community safer and courthouse fairer .. to recognize that these goals are not incompatible. 

That, as Senator Johnson said, we truly can have Justice For All. 

Now, almost 3 years after our historic election, we’ve made an immensely positive impact on the lives of so many Lake County residents. We have a long list of accomplishments that continues to grow as we reform how the State’s Attorney’s office serves the people, protects our community, and makes our courthouse better. . .

Today, I couldn’t be prouder to stand here alongside supporters and allies in the same place I did four years ago, and to announce my campaign for re-election as the Lake County State’s Attorney.

I promised the people of Lake County that we would work harder than ever to bring transparency, innovation, and cultural competency to an office that had unfortunately forgotten its mission. 

The people of Lake County deserve a prosecutor’s office that understands that we will only solve our problems by acting proactively:  by thinking ahead, by working with our legislators and Lake County Board members, and by doing everything we can to support victims and to prevent future victimization. 

I am so proud of our partnerships with the County Board, the state legislature, labor leadership, and my fellow county-wide electeds. These collaborations are working, and they are allowing us to grapple with our toughest problems.

We have fulfilled our promise to lead and to innovate not only through our courtroom work, but also through transparency efforts such as our first-ever data dashboard, our legislative advocacy, and by finally diversifying the office and its leadership to make sure it reflects the county we are working to protect every day. 

As we promised to do, we have brought a comprehensive approach to tackle the problem of violent crime. 

We have built the first-ever violent crimes unit, increased prosecutors in our domestic violence division, and vastly upgraded our cyber lab. Now, we have top-notch software and personnel to finally keep up with those who would exploit others. 

In 2021, we were awarded one of only six grants nationwide to start an Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force. Traffickers who would threaten, exploit, and abuse others for their own profit will be caught and brought to justice because of this task force. We have brought together community partners, victim advocates, law enforcement, and even federal resources to detect and eliminate one of the most hidden crimes in our society. This task force illustrates what our new office is about – collaboration, innovation, and results for victims. 

As we think about broader ways to prevent future victimization, I want to acknowledge the amazing work of the victim support specialists in our office …

These navigators are vital to victims, survivors, and the mission of justice …  I am proud to say that we have increased the number of these specialists in our office, doubled the number of Spanish-speaking specialists, and created, for the first time ever,  the position of Chief of Victim Services – Jackie Herrera Giron. Jackie is an attorney and advocate who makes sure we are following the Victims’ Bill of Rights in every single case. They have had to work a great deal with victims in light of the incidence of gun violence in Lake County. 

Everyone deserves to feel safe in every community … for too long, we have allowed gun violence to destroy lives and neighborhoods. We have allowed a cloud of fear to hang over every part of American life …  

No brother should fear dropping their younger sibling off at school, no Aunt should fear taking her niece to a neighborhood BBQ, … and no daughter should fear standing with her mother at a July 4th parade. 

For too long, we have allowed a vocal minority to drown out the will of the majority and to stall common sense legislation. Shattered communities deserve better. Gun violence is a uniquely American devastation. But it is not destiny, it is our decision. And we must recognize our own power to decide and take this power back from special interests and extremists who stand in the way of a national assault weapon ban.

In Illinois, I am so proud to be one of the few Illinois prosecutors who stood up for the Assault Weapon Ban in the Protect Illinois Communities Act. Most prosecutors were silent, And some prosecutors filed lawsuits challenging the ban.

Lake County needs a prosecutor who will vigorously prosecute those who violate the ban and who will not be controlled by extremists on this issue that is so critical to our safety.. 

But, as our friends in the legislature deserve credit for acknowledging, the Assault Weapon Ban is just one tool. We must end this false narrative in the gun safety debate that there is only “one” solution. Of course, there are multiple contributors to gun violence, and we need multiple solutions.  

We know that most gun deaths do not occur in mass shootings but in the everyday violence that stems from retaliation, social media disputes, coercive control by domestic abusers. and even gangs. 

While we are holding the offenders accountable in courts through our Violent Crimes Unit, we also know that gun violence arises from a multitude of social failures.

I have heard it said that the commission of the crime is “often the end of the story.” Our job as a government is to get to the beginning of the story in order to protect & prevent the next loss of life … the next tragedy … the next trauma.  

For too long, we have neglected under-served communities of color; we have not invested in schools, healthcare, economic development, or housing. For too long, we have allowed institutional racism and classism to dictate the lives of thousands of people. For too long, we have failed to recognize the racial disparities in our justice system. This neglect must be corrected, this instability must be stopped, and this trauma must be treated as we seek to prevent crime.

As our partners in the legislature work every day to treat these deep problems on a societal level, I am so proud of our new Gun Violence Prevention Initiative. This program seeks to saturate the individuals who are at risk with services. We have hired violence interrupters to prevent retaliation and to mediate disputes. These credible messengers will also connect at-risk youth with the services they desperately need – whether it is job training, youth mentoring, substance abuse treatment, housing, mental health services, or food security. 

In our Rehabilitative Division, we have increased diversion opportunities and ended the racial disparities that were disproportionately keeping defendants of color away from jobs and educational opportunities. This disparity from the past administration was unacceptable. The data was clear and disheartening, to say the least. I am so proud of our office for ending the cycle of disparities in our diversion program. 

As we speak of prevention, I am so proud of new collaborations with different unions who have stepped up and talked about how they can assist in job training for at-risk individuals.

Our labor community in Lake County is so strong, and is vital to the economic development and workplace safety of the entire region. I am so proud that we have so many leaders here today.

I will always support working families in making sure that wage laws are enforced, that safety regulations are followed, and that they always have a right to express themselves under the First Amendment. 

Bringing our values into this work does not extend to the workplace and the Labor movements.

These values also protect some of our most personal and private decisions. I believe in and will fight every day to protect a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. 

After Dobbs, we have seen the right to privacy come under attack, and the solemn right to make your own decisions about your body become criminalized.

We need a State’s Attorney who will never work with prosecutors from these anti-choice states and who will always make sure that there is unfettered access to healthcare facilities in Lake County. A woman’s right to her own health care decisions will always be protected as long as I am State’s Attorney. 

For me, this upcoming campaign will be about continuing the work and fighting those headwinds against change. We must never go back to a time when a few men set the entire criminal justice policy for hundreds of thousands of people … and didn’t want anyone to ask questions. 

Before our success in 2020, Lake County was a place where wrongful convictions took hundreds of years from innocent men and millions of dollars from taxpayers – all because the Republicans refused to have a transparent and diverse office.  

We need an accountable legal system that isn’t afraid to address racial and class disparities. We know that ending the use of cash for bail will stop a system that allows wealthy, violent criminals to go free prior to trial, while poor individuals charged with non-violent crimes have to sit in jail. How will we explain to children that you are allowed free from jail if you have money, while others with less money are not released. Finally, judges can hold violent criminals without worrying about whether they will post money and hurt their victims again. 

The time of the legal system gaslighting the people of Lake County is over. Forever. 

But I need each and every one of you here to join me in this fight. I need each and every one of you to say “We will not go back.” I need each and every one of you to understand and teach others that we can have a safe community and a fair legal system. 

We will go forward into a joint mission as a community to be honest with each other, to use the best people, whether they be victim specialists, prosecutors, data analysts, or violence interrupters – to figure out real solutions, to protect the rights of all, to require constitutional policing, and to protect everyone regardless of where they were born, what language they speak, who they love, or where they live in this beautiful and diverse county. Thank you.”