WOODSTOCK – McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi announced Thursday that he will seek a fourth term in office.
Bianchi, of Crystal Lake, will run in a March 2016 primary, followed by a general election that fall.
"I want to continue to work serving the citizens of McHenry County and to keep the community safe and a good place to raise a family," said Bianchi, a Republican.
Bianchi, 71, has been State's Attorney for 12 years. When asked whether he intends to complete a full four-year term if re-elected, he said: "at this point, yes."
"I'm excited to continue the work," he said. "I feel healthy and energetic. I'm looking forward to another term."
A news release sent to area media by his campaign on Thursday includes a laundry list of Bianchi's accomplishments since taking office, such as increased prosecution for DUIs and sex offenders, as well as saving an estimated $500,000 a year by using in-house attorneys on civil cases.
Perhaps what he's most proud of, Bianchi said, was spearheading efforts to introduce prison diversion programs in the 22nd Circuit, starting with the Mental Health Court, and eventually the Drug and Domestic Violence courts.
"We started with the Mental Health Court. That was, and probably still is, the greatest issue facing our community," Bianchi said. "The drug and heroin problems go hand in hand with mental health issues."
Though Bianchi said he will stay "tough on crime," he wants more resources for the diversion programs.
"We need to get people who made a mistake, who are non violent, we need to get them back as contributing members of society," he said. "Sending them to jail isn't necessarily the right answer."
Bianchi also pointed to what he described as "elevating the criminal system." He says the year before he took office, there were only five jury trials.
"There's no better way to elevate the entire criminal system but to try more cases, and to go to jury trials more often," he said.
Much of Bianchi's three terms were marred by a contentious relationship with retired former sheriff Keith Nygren. Their battles often played out both politically and legally, and Bianchi blamed Nygren for criminal charges that were brought against him in 2011.
Bianchi was eventually cleared of all wrongdoing, and the indictments didn't seem to hurt Bianchi's political career. He sailed to victory in 2012 in an uncontested race.
Sheriff Bill Prim was elected last year with public support and financial backing from Bianchi. The State's Attorney looks forward to "continued cooperation" with Prim's Office.
"It's been great cooperation and I look forward to it. It makes both our jobs easier," Bianchi said.
No challengers have yet announced their candidacy to challenge Bianchi.