Christina Stueve Hodges Nov. 1, 2012, 2:12pm

St. Clair County Associate Judge Vincent Lopinot and Ronald Duebbert, a Belleville solo-general practitioner, have a short time before voters choose between them for an open seat in the 20th Judicial Circuit.

Lopinot, a Democrat, and Duebbert, a Republican, are seeking the circuit seat vacated by former Circuit Judge Michael O’Malley who retired in 2010 before his term expired.

On Wednesday, Lopinot said Duebbert was terminated from the St. Clair County State’s attorney’s office in 1989 or 1990 for allowing a candidate to the Southwest Illinois College Board to use his residence when she did not reside there and was not a resident of the district she was running in.

Duebbert responded with a laugh.

“How would Mr. Lopinot have any knowledge of this at all other than through Robert Haida?” he said.

Haida is former St. Clair County State's Attorney, and now an elected St. Clair County circuit judge.

“That is absolutely false," Duebbert said. "An article in the newspaper said Dr. Janet McReynold and I were living together. We were going to build a house together. It had nothing to do with that at all. They wanted to get rid of me to make space for one of their favorite sons or daughters.”

McReynolds died in 2006.

"Mr. Lopinot is grasping at straws, because he cannot address issues in this race," said Duebbert. He also said he is concerned about Lopinot's acceptance of campaign contributions from lawyers who appear in his courtroom.

"Mr . Lopinot refuses to disqualify himself from cases. That is an ethical issue. That is an issue where the voting public is extremely concerned."

Lopinot says his fundraising efforts have been conducted within the spirit and letter of Illinois election laws.

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