CHARLESTON -- Jesse Danley was appointed Tuesday as Coles County's interim state's attorney to take the place of Brian Bower once he assumes a judge's position.
Danley is currently an assistant public defender in the county and previously served as an assistant in the county state's attorney's office.
After the Coles County Board voted in favor of Danley's appointment Tuesday, board Chairman Mike ZuHone said that his combination of experience "fit with what we were looking for."
"We wanted someone who will aggressively prosecute criminals but yet have the ability to have understanding and know when to be compassionate," ZuHone said.
Danley said he's "prepared to step in" to the position and already has plans to run for a full term when the office is up for re-election in 2020.
"This has always been a pursuit of mine," he said.
Bower will leave the state's attorney's position at the end of the month and begin his judge's duties Jan. 2.
An interim state's attorney had to be ready to take over the office as soon as Bower left. State law doesn't allow for a gap between when he starts his judge's duties and his interim replacement begins.
It was announced last week that the judges in the judicial circuit that includes Coles County chose Bower to fill the associate judge vacancy created when Mark Bovard was elected in November to a circuit judge's position.
The county board then scheduled Tuesday's meeting to interview candidates and make the appointment.
The county board's vote on Danley's appointment was 9-1. Member Rick Shook was opposed and members Brian Marvin and Nancy Purdy didn't attend the meeting.
After the vote, Shook said he preferred another applicant, Duane Deters, who was also once a Coles County assistant state's attorney and previously ran for the office.
"We have a lot of problems in this county," Shook said. "Duane Deters would take care of them."
The other applicants were Rob Scales and Joy Wolf, currently assistants in the state's attorney's office, and Charleston attorney Todd Reardon, who also previously ran for the office.
The board met in closed session for about 1 1/2 hours interviewing the candidates before reopening its meeting to vote on the appointment.
Danley said he wants the chance to enter his new position and get an overview of the office before deciding "what, if anything, needs to be changed."
He's a Charleston resident who's been an assistant public defender in the county for two years. He began his legal career in the state's attorney's office and was an assistant there for five years.
The native of Carterville in Williamson County graduated from the University of Missouri and received his law degree from Southern Illinois University.