With parades, speeches and other rigors of constant campaigning finally over, Third Judicial Circuit candidate Kyle Napp was wistful last week about an experience that began more than a year ago – finally coming to an end.
“As I have said before, I have great respect for people who run for office,” she said.
Napp, a Democrat, is facing Hamel attorney Thomas Burkart, a Republican, to fill the vacancy created through the upcoming retirement of Circuit Judge Charles Romani in December.
She currently serves as Madison County associate judge, a position she was appointed to in 2007. She presides in the court’s Felony Division. Before her appointment to the bench, Napp served as a prosecutor in the Madison County State’s Attorney’s office.
Napp resides in Godfrey and is married to Alton attorney Alan Napp. They have three children.
Throughout her campaign, Napp has cited a high rating in an Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) poll as evidence that she is qualified for the circuit seat, as well as the endorsements of several public officials.
“In the ISBA poll I have been ranked the highest associate judge in integrity, legal ability, court room management,” she said in a previous interview.
Napp said that she has earned the respect of law enforcement, lawyers who practice before her, as well as litigants – both victims and defendants.
“I have been endorsed by all police chiefs in Madison County and the Sheriff,” she said.
“Attorneys who have practiced before me all have been impressed with my demeanor, knowledge of the law and compassion for the situation. They know I am doing a good job and ruling according to the law.”
Burkart resides outside Hamel. He is married to attorney Karen Burkart and together they operate Burkart Law Offices in Hamel. The Burkarts have four children.
He cites his trial court and appellate court experience in seeking the circuit seat.
“I don’t know the exact count, but I have tried hundreds of cases,” Burkart said in a previous interview. “I have listed 23 (on my webpage) of who I fight and what I fight for.”
“I have also represented defendants in criminal (cases) in the early part of my career. I was also a special public defender appointed by then Chief Judge Charles Chapman.”
Burkart said he got into the race because he was tired of seeing judicial openings going unchallenged by the Republican Party. The last contests for the circuit bench occurred in 2006, in which two open seats were contested. In 2008 and 2010, circuit seats were won by Democrats who faced no challenge.
“I couldn’t stay on the sidelines anymore,” Burkart said.
One of the hallmarks of Burkart’s campaign has been a pledge not to accept campaign contributions from lawyers who may appear before him in court or from tort reform interests.
According to Illinois State Board of Elections financial disclosure records, Burkart has raised less than $12,000 this year through personal loans and several individual contributions.
Napp has raised more than $80,000, much of which has come from contributions from local attorneys.
Both candidates said recently that they have had “great” responses from voters while reaching out for their support.
Napp said “thousands” of friend-to-friend cards supporting her candidacy have been mailed and she has had big support in social media, such as Facebook.
Burkart said he has visited 20,000 homes in Madison County over the duration of his campaign.