Two men who will face off to be the lead prosecutor in Grundy County held dueling campaign events this week.
Republican incumbent Jason Helland kicked off his reelection bid on Tuesday night at the Mazon American Legion Hall, while his challenger, Democrat Jeff Brown, held an event at the Grundy County Courthouse followed by dinner at the Fraternal Order of Eagles club the same night.
In Mazon, Helland’s supporters heard from him as well as fellow Grundy Republicans, including state Sen. Sue Rezin, state Rep. David Welter, Grundy County Board President Chris Balkema and county Coroner John Callahan.
Helland said he’s had a lot of success since assuming office in 2012.
“We’ve conducted ourselves in a fiscally responsible manner, we’re usually under budget. In 2014 we established the mental health court, we secured $100,000 of state funding from Illinois Redeploy. We’re ahead of the curve and we’re doing a lot of things right,” Helland said.
Helland also said his office has bought many K-9 units for county police departments through seized drug money.
Attendee Kirk Houchin said he recently saw Helland in action while serving on a grand jury for six months.
“I think he worked hard to get into office and that he’s been doing an excellent job at the courthouse,” Houchin said.
Helland graduated magna cum laude from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, and magna cum laude from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He passed the Illinois Bar in 2003 and has been a prosecuting attorney for more than 15 years. Helland lives in Mazon with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Harper.
Meanwhile, Brown was introduced to a crowd of more than 60 supporters at the Grundy County Courthouse by Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick, who said he’s known Brown since he was a little boy.
Brown has worked with Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow’s office for the past 10 years, three as an intern and seven as a prosecutor.
“I didn’t have big plans of going into politics or anything like that, but all the people I’ve communicated with in Grundy County, I felt like I could really lend what I can do,” Brown said of his decision to run. “I’m a prosecutor, I’ve earned my stripes [in Will County], I’ve earned my respect there doing trial work, and I really want to bring that here. I want to bring the idea that this isn’t a place where you can just get away with things. We’re really going to take prosecuting seriously.”
Brown has experience prosecuting sex crimes, crimes against children and the elderly, as well as domestic abuse cases. He said he has no interest in politicking.
“All I want to do is do as much as I can and not worry about what people say about me,” he said.
Brown also balked at claims that he lives outside of Grundy County.
A Morris native, Brown graduated from Morris Community High School in 2004, then attended the University of Illinois followed by law school at Northern Illinois University.
Since working with the Will County State’s Attorney’s office, Brown lived in Will County, but said he recently moved back to Morris, where his family still resides.