FULL STORY: Morgan County State’s Attorney stepping down at end of year

By Gary Scott on November 30, 2015 at 2:34pm

Bonjean (left), Noll (right)

Morgan County State’s Attorney Robert Bonjean has announced he is stepping down from the position at the end of the year.

Bonjean told WLDS-WEAI News on Monday afternoon he’s re-joining his father in the private practice of law at Bonjean Law Office in Jacksonville starting January 1st, 2016.

According to a press release, Bonjean will concentrate his law practice in the areas of criminal and traffic law, as well as family law and real estate planning.

He says he has had “vague discussions” over the last year with his father, Robert Bonjean II.

“Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we had a little more in-depth discussion with some more specifics. He indicated there was a need for another attorney in his office, and so with all my siblings back in town for Thanksgiving, we kind of had a family meeting and gathering and discussion, and based on that discussion, Dad presented me with a great opportunity to join his firm,” says Bonjean.

Bonjean has served as State’s Attorney since his appointment to the position in March 2013 and subsequent election in 2014, replacing now-judge Chris Reif. He had been the county’s Assistant State’s Attorney since 2004.

“Certainly, there’s no regret. Being state’s attorney is a great job. It’s certainly not an easy job. It does take its’ toll on a person. Unfortunately in this position, you see things that are in the negative aspect of our society. You try to process it as best you can and forget about it,” says Bonjean.

“That was part of the discussion with my immediate family: is this what I want to do, do I want to serve the rest of this term and then run a campaign and, if I’m fortunate enough to be elected, do this another four years? And the decision was really what’s best for my family, and so it was really just a family decision,” he adds.

Bonjean filed last week for re-election. Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener confirmed Monday afternoon that he had withdrawn his candidacy, the same day that South Jacksonville resident Tyson Manker filed to run in the Democratic primary.

“My mindset as an elected official was to always expect an opponent. That way, you’re never surprised. Frankly, when I made this decision, no one had filed. I would think that if someone was serious about being my opponent, they would have filed the first day of the filing period, and when I left work on Wednesday, no one had filed,” he says, “And I made this decision before apparently Mr. Manker made his announcement.”

Bonjean, a Republican, says the timing of his announcement will allow the county board a 30-day period to appoint someone to finish his term.

Morgan County Republican Party Chairman Steve Hardin says the party is recommending to the Morgan County Board that Sangamon County Assistant State’s Attorney Gray Noll replace Bonjean in the interim.

Noll joined Manker today in filing for the upcoming March primary, but the two will automatically move on to the General Election in November 2016. No other candidates filed for state’s attorney before today’s deadline.

“Very excited about the prospect of taking over the Morgan County State’s Attorney. I’ve spent the last 13 years, ever since I graduated from law school, at the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office. I’ve tried a variety of cases, a variety of murder cases all the way down to misdemeanor cases. I think Morgan County has had some high-profile cases recently, and I’m a guy that can step in the office and hit the ground running,” says Noll.

“It’s something I’ve been doing every single day of my life for the last 13 years.”

Noll is an Illinois College graduate. He most recently ran in the Republican primary to replace Sam McCann as State Senator, but lost that election.