Hayes Becomes Fifth Lake County State’s Attorney Candidate
Career prosecutor joins Republican field with two other candidates.
Lake Bluff resident Louise Hayes, 49, became the fifth candidate to enter the race to succeed retiring Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller Tuesday when she announced her intention to run in the March 20 Republican primary.
A 21-year career prosecutor with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office who was raised in Buffalo Grove, Hayes joins Bryan Winter of Lake Barrington and Mike Nerheim of Gurnee in the Republican race.
If elected, Hayes would become Lake County’s first female state’s attorney, according to spokesperson Brad Goodman. She has personally prosecuted hundreds of cases, according to a news release issued by her campaign.
Both Nerheim and Winter welcomed Hayes to the campaign Wednesday and look forward to discussing the issues facing the voters of Lake County. “I look forward to debating her on the issues involving the office,” Winter said.
Hayes and Nerheim worked together for a period of time in the state's attorney's felony review division. Nerheim, too, welcomes a debate. “I’m hoping for a debate where all candidates will discuss the issues,” Nerheim said.
Libertyville resident and Lake Forest attorney Chris Kennedy and Highland Park native Scott Drury are facing off in the Democratic contest. Except for Winter, all candidates have prosecutorial experience.
Hayes currently works in the Mental Health Court, the Veterans’ Court and runs the Lake County Grand Jury.
Hayes joins Kennedy in specifically calling for a formal part of the prosecutor’s office to review convictions to assure mistakes have not been made. None of the candidates specifically oppose this. Hayes’ group would include lawyers, law enforcement, scientists and others from the community.
“I really wouldn’t want to convict an innocent person, no prosecutor would,” Hayes said. “I couldn’t sleep at night. It is a trend in the state and the country. It would be a group to see if something was overlooked.”
Developing the office’s cyber crime division and paying more attention to elder abuse will be two of Hayes’ priorities. She considers computer and Internet-related offenses as the “wave of the future” and sees crimes against the elderly as an outgrowth of domestic abuse.
“Some of the elder abuse comes from family members and those who care for them,” Hayes said. “When the elderly come to the hospital with certain bruises, we want hospital personnel to let us know through our domestic abuse program.”
Hayes believes her experience in the state’s attorney’s office will help her develop the areas dealing with cyber crime, elder abuse and have a post conviction review board without straining others departments. She recognizes budgets are not being increased right now.
“I would find other resources to beef these (cyber crimes and elder abuse) up,” Hayes said. “We would seek grants. When you’ve been in the office, you are aware of the desire everyone has to help out other divisions.”
Kennedy has been critical of the current State’s Attorney’s office. “The office is in need of major reforms, which I am best qualified to bring about,” he said.
Drury, a former assistant U.S. attorney for seven years, thinks he is the only reform candidate. Hayes’ entry into the race has changed nothing for him.
“If the people of Lake County want more of the same, they have four candidates to do it,” Drury said. “If they want a state’s attorney who will cause a change in culture the office needs, I am the person.”
Hayes recognizes there is room for improvement, but that the office has done many things well over the years. “The things we do well we will continue to do well,” she said. “The things we don’t do smoothly, we will work on.”
A current Lake Bluff resident, Hayes has also lived in Lincolnshire and Buffalo Grove where she graduated from Stevenson High School. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Purdue University and graduated from the John Marshall Law School.