Ann Maher Oct. 27, 2015, 5:48pm


Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis, Jr. has announced that he will run for an open seat at the Fifth District Appellate Court in November 2016.

Barberis will be running as a Republican candidate for the seat being vacated by Justice Bruce Stewart who announced he would retire after his current term expires.

If no others announce their intentions to seek the vacancy, Barberis will face First Judicial Circuit Judge Brad Bleyer of Carbondale, who will be running on the Democratic ticket.

Barberis, who was sworn into office as circuit judge last December after defeating Associate Judge Clarence Harrison in November 2014 for the seat vacated by Ann Callis, said he is interested in the appellate court because it has a “profound impact on everyone in southern Illinois.”

“It’s a good opportunity to help facilitate a good reputation for the Fifth District with sound reasoning and good judgment,” he said. “That’s not a criticism of the Fifth District. This is more an opportunity to ensure that it continues.”

He said that judicial elections, unlike other elections, typically only happen when someone retires. Given that appellate court terms are 10 years, it is particularly unusual that two open seats at the Fifth District are happening at once, he said.

The other Fifth District vacancy is due to the retirement of James Wexstten. Vying for that seat are Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jo Beth Weber, resident judge in Jefferson County, a Democrat, and James "Randy" Moore, Republican, who presently serves as justice by appointment to the Fifth District. 

Proclaiming in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon that he is a “lifelong conservative,” Barberis stated that he “promises to base his decisions on a strict adherence to the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions.”

He stated that he intends to “set an example of the highest judicial ethics by maintaining integrity and honesty and impartiality both on and off the bench.”

During Barberis’s 2014 campaign, he ran on a shoe string, spending less than $5,000 of his own money, compared to Harrison who raised $112,117 in individual contributions and loaned his campaign close to $30,000. Barberis won 41,723 to 35,114, or 54 to 46 percent.

The same kind of budget he worked with running for circuit judge in one county may not work when running in a district that includes 37 counties.

He said he is not ruling out accepting campaign contributions.

“Obviously I am going to enlist more help to run in the 37 counties,” he said. “I’m going to reach out to the many organizations, and county chairmen. Again, I am going to employ a strong social media presence. Whatever we do we’re going to run efficiently.”

Prior to being elected judge, Barberis was a part time state’s attorney for nearly 15 years and was in private practice for 18 years.

He has been married to his wife Laura for 25 years, and they have three children.

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