Paul Evans, 45, an O'Fallon general practice attorney, announced Friday that he will run for circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit in November 2006.

The opportunity to run for election arose when St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto did not file for retention in December, stating that he would instead seek election to the same position. A judge running for retention needs a 60 percent affirmative vote by the electorate, whereas only a simple majority is necessary in a contested election.

"This is not a spur of the moment decision," Evans said. "My wife and I thought this through privately and carefully. I have applied for positions in the past. I'm confident this is the right time. I'm going for it."

In order to appear on the March 21 primary ballot, Evans, a Republican, must file his candidacy with the State Board of Elections by Jan. 10 with at least 500 signatures.

Evans and his supporters set out Saturday to gather the necessary signatures on primary petitions. He said he hopes to file with at least 800 signatures.

If a candidate is not successful in gathering the appropriate number of signatures, a successful write-in candidacy during the primary election could earn a spot on the general election ballot.

Cueto, a Democrat, issued a statement in mid-December about his decision not to seek retention.

"I decided to forego a retention vote and run in a general election because I choose to match up against an opponent and let the voters choose on the basis of legal ability, diligence and experience, rather than allow the outside special interest groups and political action committees to dictate the terms of my re-election," Cueto indicated in a prepared statement.

Evans said he offers citizens fairness and integrity.

"I do not think people should rush to judgment that I am pro business or pro defense," he said. "If a person enters my court to recover damages they're going to get a fair day. I will make decisions on facts and law."

If Evans had not entered the race, Cueto likely would have run unopposed in the Nov. 7 general election.

Evans said he plans to run his campaign focusing on his credibility and experience as an attorney, rather than attack Cueto. He said he could not speak to Cueto's motivation not to seek retention.

"He relied on his own analysis I suppose," Evans said. "But his decision was a major stimulus in my decision."

Evans said he had not yet named a manager for his campaign. He was unsure how much money he would need to raise to run in the general election.

The Evans Law Firm specializes in real estate, estate planning and probate. Evans is experienced in labor and employment law. And, he also has defended personal injury and product liability cases as well as represented plaintiffs.

Evans and his wife, Sandy, have three children and reside in Shiloh.

He received his juris doctorate degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale in 1988 and his bachelor's degree in agribusiness economics from SIUC in 1981.

Evans has participated in the Land of Lincoln Legal Services offering pro bono services since 1994.

He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Missouri Bar Association, and on the boards of the Metro East Park & Recreation District, Trailnet, Inc., St. Teresa Catholic School, St. Johns Daycare. Evans also is a charter member of the O'Fallon Sunrise Rotary Club.

Evans, who has a child with severe spina bifida, also is a member of the Spina Bifida Associations of Illinois, St. Louis and America.

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