Garrity Traina Welcomes Joe Navarro as La Salle County State’s Attorney

A Familiar Face Returns to Serve La Salle County

Joe Navarro, a well-known figure in La Salle County, has once again assumed the role of state’s attorney. The unanimous decision from the La Salle County Board reinstated Navarro, now 70 years old and hailing from Ottawa, to the esteemed position. This appointment comes as a result of Todd Martin’s departure, as he embarks on his new journey as a La Salle County circuit judge (with his swearing-in taking place later today).

Navarro named La Salle County state’s attorney
Former La Salle County State’s Attorney Todd Martin and newly-appointed State’s Attorney Joe Navarro chat before the La Salle County Board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at the La Salle County Government Complex in Ottawa. (Scott Anderson)

A Well-Deserved Return

The appointment of Navarro as the new state’s attorney did not come as a surprise. Rumors had been circulating about his potential candidacy due to his extensive experience and expertise. Navarro, seemingly touched by the occasion, took the opportunity to express his gratitude and address the board.

Navarro commended his predecessor, Todd Martin, and vowed to live up to the expectations set forth by Martin himself. He pledged to execute his duties “fairly, honestly, and to the best of my ability.” Emotion resonated in his voice as he conveyed his deep appreciation to everyone present, recognizing familiar faces and welcoming the chance to establish new connections. Navarro extended an open-door policy, inviting any questions at any time.

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A Return Home

Navarro is no stranger to the intricacies of La Salle County government. Having previously served two terms as state’s attorney, he rejoined the prosecutor’s office two years ago when Martin appointed him as the chief deputy in charge of the felony drugs division.

With nearly 39 years of legal experience under his belt, Navarro embarked on his political career at a relatively young age. His 1988 election victory over Republican Gary Peterlin surprised many, given his youth and limited experience. However, Democrats were drawn to Navarro’s fresh perspective, military service during the Vietnam War, and union ties as a former pipe fitter. His relentless pursuit of education, supported by the GI Bill, further solidified his appeal.

A Journey Filled with Achievements and Challenges

Navarro’s first term as state’s attorney was eventful, marked by notable achievements and political obstacles. Notably, he secured convictions in all eight of his murder cases. However, his ambitions extended beyond the courtroom. Navarro’s bid for a judicial position faced contention, and he gained attention for his refusal to approve the use of public funds by then-sheriff Tony Condie to settle a sexual harassment case. Despite his successes, Navarro’s pursuit of a third term in 1996 resulted in a narrow defeat to Republican Mike James.

Fond Farewells and New Beginnings

In bidding farewell to the board, Martin reflected on his unexpected journey to becoming a judicial candidate and the subsequent resignation from his previous role. Grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the County Board members, Martin expressed his admiration for their ability to maintain amiable relationships, even during disagreements. He fondly recounted the camaraderie that often concluded with shared drinks.

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Newly-appointed La Salle County State's Attorney Joe Navarro stands to address the La Salle County Board as former State's Attorney Todd Martin applauds during a La Salle County Board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at the La Salle County Government Complex in Ottawa. (Scott Anderson)

In welcoming Joe Navarro as the new state’s attorney, Garrity Traina celebrates his return to La Salle County. With Navarro’s seasoned expertise and commitment to justice, the county can look forward to a promising future. To learn more about Garrity Traina’s legal services, visit Garrity Traina.