Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Dec. 3, 2013, 7:16am

St. Jacob attorney John Barberis Jr. announced Monday he will be running for the circuit judge vacancy created in the wake of former judge Ann Callis's resignation.

Barberis, a Republican, will presumably face Associate Judge Clarence Harrison in next year's general election. Harrison, a Democrat, announced his campaign four months ago.

The candidates would have to win their party primaries on March 18 in order to face one another in the Nov. 4 general election.

At a Madison County Republican Party press conference at the county administration building, Barberis said his campaign for a seat in the Third Judicial Circuit will be based on independence.

“The biggest thing that I’m going to try and get out...is that I am a Republican but I am not bought and sold by the Republican Party. I’m very independent in my thoughts and beliefs,” Barberis said.

Barberis lost election for Madison County Circuit Clerk last year by a margin of 60 to 40 percent. He explained that he entered the race at the tail-end of the filing period against a large crowd of candidates and that “the experience pool was stretched very thin.”

He said this campaign is different.

“I think this time there’s a lot more effort going to be put into strategy,” Barberis said. “There’s more people with political knowledge and experience to help out on these campaigns.

“This one means a lot more to me in terms of, it’s what I do. I mean, the legal aspect of it fits me much better than this Circuit Clerk position would have.”

Barberis said the campaign has not and will not put any ill feelings between him and Harrison.

“Judge Harrison is a personal friend of mine. As a matter of fact, before I made the final decision that I would run against him, I went and spoke with him,” Barberis said. “And as I expected he was very gracious and welcoming, and I’m certain that after this race we’ll still be good friends.”

A member of the Illinois Bar Association, Barberis has been a private attorney for roughly 15 of his 17 years of experience. Running his own business, he has worked on cases ranging from civil lawsuits to family law to criminal law.

“I handle stuff that everybody has to deal with, more than likely,” Barberis said. “And so I think my broad range of experience in the legal field that I’ve worked in will be the biggest thing that I bring to the table.”

Barberis  is a self-employed attorney, also acting as the city attorney for Collinsville, corporate attorney for Gateway Center and the Village Zoning Officer for the Village of St. Jacob.

County GOP Chairman Andrew Carruthers announced the party's county-wide ticket at Monday's press conference.

“Madison County tax payers have endured the pain of a one-party dominated system too long,” Carruthers said. “These Republican candidates have each played a role in the cleaning up of the corruption that permeates government in the metro-east region.”

Kurt Prenzler will run for re-election as Madison County Treasurer.

Carruthers said Prenzler is restoring integrity and professionalism to his office as County Treasurer. He touted Prenzler's ability to reduce the cost of his office by 30 percent while increasing services. Prenzler also has increased investments with local financial institutions by more than $50 million while investing more than $130 million of county funds pursuant to Illinois law, Carruthers said.

“Prenzler kept his promises to the taxpayers of Madison County,"  Carruthers said. "He reformed unethical tax sales, saving taxpayers millions.”

Carruthers also announced that County Board member Stephen Adler is running for Madison County Clerk. Adler has been re-elected to the County Board since 2004, serving as chairman of the Personnel and Labor Relations and Buildings and Lands committees. He manages investments as a profession.

Carruthers said the Madison County Republican Party’s priority is to "clean up" the damage former Treasurer Fred Bathon created with his tax sale scandal.

Bathon is set to be sentenced Dec. 6 for rigging tax sales in Madison County to the detriment of distressed property owners.

Carruthers added that Prenzler and Adler broke the Bathon scandal, contacting the FBI regarding Bathon's activities.

He also said that Barberis filed the first class-action suit on behalf of those affected by Bathon’s scheme.

“When Madison County failed to act on tax payer’s behalf, the Madison County Republicans in general, and the individuals that make up this ticket in particular, demanded action,” Carruthers said. “Pay no attention to what elected officials say; instead, look at what elected officials do.”

Carruthers also indicated that the Republican Party will have a candidate with considerable law enforcement experience running for Madison County Sheriff, but is holding that announcement for a later time.

“We intend to run someone for sheriff,” Carruthers said. “We had several interested.”

County Republicans currently have candidates in five of the nine open races for County Board.

Jaime Goggin is running in District 24. Tom McRae is running in District 14. Mick Madison is running in District 5. Terrance Peterson is running in District 9. Brad Maxwell is running in District 11.

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