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Brandon Zanotti delivers parting statement

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MARION — Outgoing Williamson County State's Attorney Brandon Zanotti did not attend Wednesday's meeting of the county board of commissioners in which his replacement - Marcy Cascio-Hale - was appointed unanimously. He did, however, offer up a parting statement.

"The past eight years serving as Williamson County State's Attorney has been an honor and a privilege," he said. "I will forever remember fondly the work I did for the state's attorney's office and the people of Williamson County, and believe that my team and I made a positive impact in the community, including securing the convictions of many dangerous people."

Zanotti said that he is proud to have continued the productive partnerships with CASA and the Child Advocacy Center, started by his predecessor, Charles "Chuck" Garnati.

"Chuck, and his predecessor, Robert Howerton, both told me on the day I was first sworn in almost eight years ago that this was a job one shouldn't do longer than eight years. That always meant something to me, and I genuinely feel the time is right for me and my family to pursue another career path.

"I wish all those who sit in the chair of state's attorney after me the very best," he said. "I extend my sincere gratitude to all those I have worked alongside these past eight years, including my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, my staff, our judges, the county board and other county officeholders and employees, the press, and the victims of crime of which I have worked closely with attempting to bring them some sense of justice."

Zanotti added that it is always difficult to leave something that is so meaningful.

"But to quote a line from literature I always enjoyed, 'How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.'"

Zanotti announced earlier this month that he was leaving his elected position of state's attorney to join Mitchell & Associates, a private firm based in West Frankfort. 

The Johnston City native said he was leaving July 22, which now requires a special election this November. Had Zanotti simply waited until July 25 to resign, a Democrat replacement would have been assured the office until November of 2024. 

Zanotti explained that the timing of his resignation had nothing to do with politics - that it was the date that he and his new employer had settled on as a starting date for his new job.

Zanotti supported Tyler Dihle as his replacement as state's attorney and made that recommendation to the board of commissioners. Dihle also works at Mitchell & Associates. 

But Tom Caliper, the Williamson County Democrat Party chairman, after conferring with his fellow Democrats at a meeting earlier this week, concluded that Dihle would not be their choice. They instead opted for Cascio-Hale. 

And because it is unwritten board policy for commissioners to side with the party chairman's recommendation for hire rather than the officeholder, the commissioners did just that on Wednesday when they officially named Casciop-Hale the acting state's attorney. 

Zanotti's last day on the job is this Friday. Cascio-Hale will be sworn into office Monday, which will be her first day on the new job. Cascio-Hale will then square off with Republican challenger, Ted Hampson, in the fall election. 

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Williamson County Democrat Party Chair Tom Caliper said Saturday that Tyler Dihle, an attorney with the Sam C. Mitchell & Associates law firm in West Frankfort, will be State's Attorney Brandon Zanotti's recommendation as his replacement leading into the special election this November.

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