GALENA, Ill. — Ronald Leinen has plans to expand the role of Jo Daviess County state’s attorney.

In addition, the Galena native will be more stringent on taking felony charges to court instead of reaching plea agreements, he said.

“This county is my home,” Leinen said. “I believe I have the experience and temperament to do a good job as state’s attorney.”

Leinen, a Democratic candidate, will face Republican incumbent John Hay in the Nov. 8 general elections. He is seeking his first four-year term.

Leinen said he was motivated to run for state’s attorney due to his dissatisfaction with the number of felony cases he feels haven’t been adequately resolved.

“So many cases are settled with plea deals that end up with greatly reduced jail time or no jail time,” Leinen said. “I believe that the justice should fit the crime. The state legislators have set forth what the consequences are of these crimes.”

Leinen said he would bring more cases to trial to ensure proper sentencing.

However, he also noted that he believes in second chances for first-time offenders in nonviolent cases. He said he would pursue rehabilitation for cases involving drug use.

“I don’t want to come off as a hard-nosed lawyer,” Leinen said. “I do believe that lots of people just make mistakes.”

If elected, Leinen also would work to provide legal counsel for the Jo Daviess County Board.

The Galena lawyer said he would look to expand his involvement with the county and provide comprehensive legal assistance for all county departments.

“This involves going to every county-related meeting and getting a thorough understanding of every issue,” Leinen said. “A lot of civil cases for the county usually hire an outside lawyer. I want to be involved with every civil case the county is dealing with.”

He added that his years of experience in practicing civil law gives him the background to handle civil cases for Jo Daviess County.

As part of his efforts to expand the role of the state’s attorney office, Leinen said he will work to educate the community on legal matters.

In addition to giving presentations to local students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, Leinen will look into reaching out to other groups. For example, he could educate senior citizens on the threats of identity theft.

“Most state’s attorneys go out and talk with the kids,” Leinen said. “I want to do more than that. I have a lot of knowledge I can share with the community and I’ll do my best to actually share it.”

In examining the current state’s attorney office, Leinen is satisfied with much of the work that has been done, he said. However, he feels he can bring even more to the county.

“There’s a lot of good work that is being done, but there’s a lot that can still be brought to the table,” Leinen said.