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FOREST CITY | Winnebago County Attorney Adam Sauer said being appointed as a judge is a big responsibility as well as a big honor, but he's up to the challenge.

"I'm excited about it," he said.

Last week Sauer, 36, was appointed associate district judge for District 2A, which covers North Iowa.

He succeeds Judge Annette Boehlje, who died last year.

Sauer will assume his new role on Feb. 23. 

Becoming a judge is "something that I've kind of had in the back of my mind for some time," Sauer said. 

However, he wanted to wait until it was a good time for him personally and professionally, he said.  

He said his experience with juvenile and criminal matters will help him in his new role. 

Sauer said he's learned a lot as county attorney and will miss the relationships he's developed with county employees, law enforcement officers, Department of Correctional Services employees and others.

"It's wasn't easy (to apply for the judge position) knowing I was going to be leaving a lot of good things behind," he said. 

Last week the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors discussed how to fill the county attorney vacancy after Sauer leaves.

They had the option of appointing Sauer's replacement or calling for a special election.  

The supervisors decided it would be best to appoint someone now rather than holding a special election because Sauer's term is up at the end of the year.

However, citizens can still petition the county to hold a special election soon instead of making an appointment. 

The supervisors plan to advertise for candidates, interview them and appoint one to fill the remainder of Sauer's term.

Candidates don't have to live in Winnebago County to apply. However, whoever is appointed will be required to move to the county if he or she doesn't already live there. 

Sauer told the supervisors it's unlikely they will be able to appoint his replacement before he leaves.

However, he said they can hire someone -- such as a county attorney from one of the neighboring counties -- to fill in the gap. 

Sauer was among three finalists for the associate judge position. The others were Clear Lake attorney Mike Moeller and Boone County Magistrate Dan Gonnerman.

After Boehlje's death, a magistrate appointing commission met and nominated the three finalists from among applications they received. The final decision was made by sitting judges in District 2A.

Sauer practiced law with the Daron Fritz law firm in Lake Mills for two years before becoming an assistant Winnebago County attorney in 2009.

In 2010, the county attorney position was changed from part-time to full-time.

Sauer, a Republican, ran and won, defeating independent Paul Walter and has remained as county attorney, winning re-election in 2014.

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John Skipper, a reporter for the Globe Gazette, another Lee Enterprises newspaper, contributed to this report.

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