Attorney wins mayor's race in spite of trial prep time out

Ann Knef Apr. 7, 2005, 8:19am

Robert Jackstadt, Glen Carbon mayor-elect

Glen Carbon mayor-elect Robert Jackstadt, who trounced incumbent opponent Ben Maliszewski 71-29 percent in Tuesday’s municipal election, attributes his victory to an army of volunteers.

And it’s a good thing the Edwardsville attorney had troops with a solid ground game.

Jackstadt, a construction and education litigator, had to recuse himself from campaigning during the final weeks before election so that he could prepare for trial set to begin April 4, the day before the election.

“The win came from the hard work of my many, many volunteers,” he said. “It was made clear that my day job unfortunately was going to have to come first. It was impossible for me to be present in the last few weeks.”

But he couldn’t let the opportunity to lead the growing city escape.

“You only get to run once every four years,” Jackstadt said.

A partner with Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt in Edwardsville, the new mayor represents Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in a breach of contract suit against Kane Mechanical Inc.

Ironically, a week before the trial, Madison County Circuit Court Judge George Moran Jr. ordered the case be mediated, he said.

“As you know, 80-90 percent of the time cases are settled,” Jackstadt said, or a myriad of other scenarios preempt trials from proceeding on time.

Jackstadt gives most credit to his campaign manager wife, Kathi, for pulling it all together.

“My wife worked hard. She and the army of troops walked the neighborhoods, talked to people, made calls, wrote letters to the editor, got out the vote, put up signs, and put back up the ones that got knocked down,” he said.

“What we had was an agreement to reach the goal,” said Jackstadt. “My family and I discussed it and they were behind my decision to run. Lawyers do not have a lot of extra time anyway, and they knew that it would have to come out of (their) time.”

His absence from the campaign trail actually had a positive effect, he said.

“I think it energized the group. They said, ‘we’ll get it done.’”

Sometimes a plaintiff’s attorney, and at other times for the defense, Jackstadt specializes in commercial, construction and education litigation.

“I may be a plaintiff attorney (suing) a contractor or architect or may be defending an owner being sued by an architect,” he said. “It depends on the issue.”

Jackstadt is no novice when it comes to politics. He is the son of a former Collinsville mayor and was raised in a home where community service was promoted as an important duty.

“My mom and dad engendered in us a sense of giving back,” he said. “I see local politics as a public duty, public service.”

Having lived in Glen Carbon since 1991, Jackstadt served on the city’s Planning Commission from 1993-95. After that he “threw his name in the hat” and was elected village trustee from 1995-99. He took a breather to help out at home.

“My kids were at a delicate age,” he said. “Rather than be in politics I decided to spend time more time with the kids—homework and coaching.”

His hiatus was interrupted by a call to fill a vacancy on the Edwardsville School Board which he did from April 2000 to November 2001.

The Jackstadts have a daughter, Zhanell, 19, a freshman at Murray State University; sons Bryson, 16, a junior at Edwardsville High School and Quincy, 13, an eighth-grader at Liberty Middle School in Edwardsville.

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