PARIS - While Mark Isaf was in law school, he fielded questions from prospective employer Craig Smith of Paris about his athletic experience.
Isaf, who played and coached basketball and lacrosse in his native upstate New York, said Smith wanted applicants who had lost games before because he needed to know that "you can handle adversity." He said Smith also appreciated that athletes analyze mistakes, practice, work within the rules of the game, and deal with bad calls.
"I think it was a pretty accurate way to judge who you want to work with," Isaf said.
After graduating in 1991 from Northern Illinois University law school in DeKalb, Isaf took a position in Smith's law firm in Paris and spent the next 19 years working there. Now, Isaf is putting his experience to work as the new state's attorney for Edgar County. He took the oath of office at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Isaf, age 47, was nominated by the Edgar County Republican Party and appointed by the County Board to fill the remainder of fellow Republican Matt Sullivan's term as state's attorney. Isaf is so far running unopposed for state's attorney in the November general election. Prospective opponents have until Sept. 2 to file as a write-in candidate.
Sullivan won the Republican primary for a circuit judge post vacated by retirement. The Illinois Supreme Court then appointed him to go ahead and fill this post because he will be unopposed by other parties in the November election. Election law does not allow for judicial candidates to be added to the ballot after the primary.
Isaf said Sullivan, Assistant State's Attorney Allen Bell, and their stuff have established a smooth operating office, so he plans keep the office running efficiently and not make any major changes. He added that tight budgetary times limit the establishment of new programs and that he is still in a learning process.
"I need to observe, I need to learn, and I need to evaluate," Isaf said.
As a private attorney, Isaf specialized in insurance defense cases and later family law. Isaf said he also represented the Illinois Department of Transportation on land condemnation cases as a special assistant with the Illinois Attorney General's Office for several years.
To prepare for becoming state's attorney, Isaf resigned from the Paris school board. His wife, Amy, has been appointed to take his place on the board. They have two children - Salem and Sarah.
Isaf said he has enjoyed working on the school board, being on the Paris YMCA board for 10 years, coaching youth sports, and volunteering in other ways in his adopted community. He said he views the the state's attorney's position as another way to serve, and to protect, his community while also taking on a new professional challenge.
"I life the idea of a new challenge," Isaf said.
Contact Rob Stroud at email@example.com or 238-6861.