Cook County state's attorney candidates debate

CHICAGO The major party candidates, Democrat Anita Alvarez and Republican Tony Peraica, met Tuesday at Chicago's Union League Club for the first of two debates.

The candidates are vying for control of the approximately $100 million state's attorney office. They have two different approaches to Cook County justice.

"I know what it is like to hold the hand of a victim but I also know the hard work it takes to put an investigation together," said Alvarez.

"We have a complete misconception on how this criminal justice system should operate and it does not function," said Peraica.

Current Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine has been in officer for 12 years. He's in charge of more than 900 lawyers who work on the public's behalf.

Alvarez won a tight 6-way race for the Democratic nomination in February, trumping colleagues and aldermen well-known for their political connections. She says she won by presenting people want they want-- a 22-year prosecutor who worked her way up by taking on guns and gangs.

"The very fact that I as a woman am standing here before you today, in this position is change in and of itself," said Alvarez.

But Peraica links her trajectory to that of insiders who he says are part of corrupt regimes at the city, county and state level -- corruption that takes the form of bloated bureaucracy and mismanagement that leads to higher taxes.

The man who marched down Michigan Avenue charging electoral fraud after losing the Cook County presidency in 2006 promises to cut the states' attorney's budget 10-percent over four years -- but pay staff lawyers better.

"We will audit the books and lock up the crooks in order to make sure the taxpayers interest is protected day to day," said Peraica.

As a Chicago Democrat, Alvarez has the natural advantage in the race. But Peraica, a Republican county commissioner, has high name recognition.

Their final debate is scheduled for October 23rd on ABC7.

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