While elected circuit judges currently ponder who will fill a total of six associate judge vacancies in Madison and St. Clair County courts, voters next year will decide whether to retain five of those sitting circuit judges.
That is, if those five judges decide to seek successive six-year terms.
Circuit judges up for retention in 2016 in the Third Judicial Circuit - which includes Madison and Bond counties - are Andreas Matoesian and William Mudge, and in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit - which includes St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington counties - are chief judge John Baricevic, Robert LeChien and Robert Haida.
All of the five circuit judges identify as Democrats.
But judicial retention races differ from open seat races in two distinct ways: they are non-partisan and they require super-majority voter approval of 60 percent rather than simple-majority of more than 50 percent.
Matoesian, 77, in his 50th year on the bench, is the longest serving judge in the state of Illinois.
He has previously declined to discuss his record-setting tenure, but as reported by the Southern Illinoisan in 2013, Matoesian began his career as a magistrate in 1965. The position was eliminated when the state adopted a new constitution in 1970.
Mudge would be seeking his second term as circuit judge. He served as Madison County State's Attorney for eight years prior to first being elected circuit judge in 2010.
In St. Clair County, Baricevic would be seeking a third term as circuit judge. Prior to his first election as circuit judge in 2004, he served as St. Clair County Board Chairman from 1991 to 2004, and as St. Clair County State's Attorney from 1980 to 1990.
LeChien, who has been a judge for 28 years, would be seeking a fourth term as circuit judge. He was first elected circuit judge in 1998. Before that he served as an associate judge from 1987 to 1998.
Haida would be seeking a second term as circuit judge. He served as St. Clair County State's Attorney from 1991 to 2010.
Circuit judges earn salaries of $184,000; associate judges earn $175,000.