Judicial vacancies in St. Clair and Madison counties filled in with candidates

By Ann Maher | Dec 6, 2017

With the candidate filing period for the spring primary having closed on Monday, results indicate that the entire slate of circuit court vacancies in Madison and St. Clair counties will see contests in the November general election.

O'Fallon attorney Paul Evans filed petitions on Dec. 1 for the seat of retiring St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot.

Evans will run on the Republican ticket in the March 20 primary, and without opposition in that race, will go on to face unopposed Associate Judge John O'Gara, Democrat, in the Nov. 6, 2018 general election.  

Lopinot's seat is an "at-large" position, meaning that voters in all five counties of the 20th Judicial Circuit - including St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington - will decide the election.

Evans has served as state representative in the 102nd House District, after having been appointed to fill the unexpired term of long-serving Republican state representative Ron Stephens in 2011.

A three-way primary race for the seat in 2012 went to Charlie Meier of Okawville, who went on to win the general election later that year, and subsequently in 2014 and 2016.

In the 2012 primary, Meier also topped Don Weber of Troy, a former Madison County circuit judge and state's attorney.

In 2006, Evans ran unsuccessfully for circuit judge in a contest made infamous for the precedent set by then circuit judge Lloyd Cueto.

Cueto, a Belleville Democrat who had served two consecutive six-year terms as circuit judge, opted not to run for retention in the November 2006 general election. Instead, he chose to run for election to the same position. To be retained, he would have needed a 60 percent "yes" vote, whereas in an open election the candidate only needs a simple majority.

Evans lost the race for a St. Clair County resident seat, in which only voters in St. Clair County decided the election, by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.

The Cueto path to election was followed again in the 2016 general election by St. Clair County circuit judges John Baricevic, Robert Haida and Robert LeChien, Democrats.

The three judges' move survived court challenge, and all but Baricevic went on to win election. Baricevic was defeated by Republican Ron Duebbert.

LeChien, who passed away in August, had faced former associate judge Laninya Cason, Republican, defeating her by a margin of 51 to 49 percent in a St. Clair County resident circuit seat.

Cason filed petitions on Monday, seeking election on the Republican ticket to the vacancy created upon LeChien's death.

Unopposed in the primary, Cason will go on to face unopposed Associate Judge Chris Kolker, Democrat, in the general election.

For the vacancy being created by the retiring Circuit Judge Jan Fiss, an at-large position, Republicans Marshall Hilmes and Katherine Ruocco will face one another in the spring primary. The winner of that contest will go on to face Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf in the general election.

Chief Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson and circuit judges Zina Cruse and Daniel Emge will seek retention.

While Gleeson and Emge are resident judges of St. Clair and Washington counties respectively, voters in the entire circuit decide retention races. Cruse's seat is an at-large position.

In Madison County, attorney Mark Rabe of Edwardsville filed petitions on Monday to run as a Republican for the seat of retiring Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

Rabe lost in a 2012 primary contest against Thomas Burkart for the seat of retiring circuit judge Charles Romani.

Rabe has not yet formed an election committee. 

According to Rabe’s LinkedIn profile, he is currently a self-employed attorney from Edwardsville. 

He previously worked as an associate attorney at Bryan Cave LLP from 1986 to 1991, an associate attorney at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal from 1991 to 1995, counsel at McDonnell Douglas Corporation from 1995 to 1997 and senior counsel at Boeing from 1995 to August 2017 before he became self-employed. 

Rabe studied engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1974 to 1977. He then studied history and English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where he earned his BA. Rabe then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1986. 

Unopposed this time around, he will go on to face Associate Judge Sarah Smith, Democrat, in the general election.

According to a first quarter report listing campaign contributions through Sept. 30, Smith had raised a total of $65,355. Since then, she has received one additional contribution of $1,000 on Nov. 21 from David Galanti of the Galanti Law Firm in Bethalto. 

For the vacancy of John Barberis, Circuit Judge David Dugan, Republican, unopposed in the primary, will face Collinsville attorney Marc Parker in the general election.

Dugan was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Barberis, who was elected to the Fifth District Appellate Court last year.

According to Dugan’s quarterly report, he had raised a total of $10,600 through Sept. 30. 

Since then, Dugan received a $1,000 contribution on Nov. 2 from John H. Hustava PC in Collinsville. 

According to Parker’s quarterly report, he had raised atotal of $16,859.99 through Sept. 30. 

Parker has since then received several additional contributions:

-         $1,000 on Oct. 31 from Cates Mahoney LLC in Swansea

-         $1,000 on Oct. 31 from Becker, Schroader &Chapman PC in Granite City

-         $1,000 on Nov. 10 from Keefe, Keefe & Unsell PC in Belleville

-         $1,000 on Nov. 15 from Steamfitters Local 439PAC Fund in Caseyville

The only uncontested race in the 20th and 3rd Judicial Circuits is the seat of the retiring Circuit Judge John Knight, a resident judge of Bond County.

Bond County State's Attorney Chris Bauer, Democrat, has filed petitions for that seat. He will be unopposed in the primary, and unless a candidate is slated to run by Republicans or an Independent steps up, Bauer will face no opposition in the general election.

Chief Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Dave Hylla will seek retention in the 2018 general election. 

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Madison County Madison County Circuit Court Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Illinois

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