When he graduated from law school, the Belleville native did not believe he would serve either as a circuit clerk or lead a state's attorney's office.
But, it is all but certain that St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Brendan Kelly will move on as the county's next top prosecutor.
Kelly, who was elected Clerk in 2008, is likely to become State's Attorney after a vote is taken by the County Board on Nov. 29. Kelly is a Democrat.
Board Chairman Mark Kern nominated Kelly, 34, to succeed State's Attorney Robert Haida, who was elected circuit judge on Nov. 2. Two years remain in Haida's term.
Kelly said in an interview with the Madison County Record on Tuesday that he was "very excited" about the new role.
"Very excited but also very humbled because the responsibility and authority that comes with that office is unique in our judicial system," Kelly said. "There are very serious questions of public safety, public policy, justice and at times, matters of life and death."
Kelly, a Navy veteran and former assistant state's attorney, handled felonies, DUI and other cases during his four years as prosecutor.
"It's very sobering when you think about it," Kelly said of the state's attorney's job. "The decisions made in that office have to be approached with a sense of seriousness and cool-headedness."
As to whom will succeed him as circuit clerk, Kelly said that the decision was up to Kern and the county board.
He would not comment further on who would replace him.
Kelly credited his time as head of the circuit clerk's office with refining and adding to his knowledge of administration that he had begun to gather while in the Navy.
Leaving his current post, he said, has left him with mixed feelings.
"I've had a great experience as circuit clerk," Kelly said. "But I've always missed the passion and excitement that comes with prosecuting a case and being able to stand in a courtroom and to be able to say you're there on behalf of the people. I have some mixed emotions about leaving the circuit clerk's office. I'm very proud of the people that work here and have come to care about many of them deeply. But current events don't always unfold in the order you want. So, you have to make decisions and hope that you're doing the right thing."
If Kelly's nomination is approved Monday night, his first day as St. Clair County State's Attorney will be Dec. 6.
Kelly will fulfill the two remaining years of Haida's term before he would have to run again.
Haida will fill the vacancy created by retiring Judge Patrick Young.
Kelly, a Belleville native, attended Belleville East High School.
He graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and law school degree from St. Louis University School of Law.
During his time as clerk, Kelly has instituted e-filing and achieved two consecutive clean audits while tightening security procedures.
Kelly is married with two children.