Overstreet reflects on successful election campaign to 10-year term at Fifth District

By John Breslin | Nov 26, 2018

Justice David Overstreet has described it as an honor to be elected by voters across 37 counties as he gains a permanent position on the Fifth District Appellate Court.

Speaking following his election, Justice  Overstreet sad he enjoyed the campaign, adding that "it was necessary to do my best" to win.

Overstreet said it took a full year of campaigning to secure the seat. He was challenged by Democrat Kevin Hoerner, and won by more than 15 percentage points.

He said it was a "challenge" combining campaigning with the day job of the court, including sitting on the bench and being a member of various court committees.

"Time was at a premium," Overstreet said, adding that following the election he will be able to focus even more on the appellate court work.

Oversteet pointed out that the money spent on the election was much less than in previous election cycles. As a sitting judge and judicial candidate, he could not directly get involved in fund raising, and stayed entirely away from that end of the election process.

He said he devoted his time away from the bench to the campaign by traveling, attending forums and meetings.

"That was the enjoyable part," Overstreet said. "I am so grateful, it is humbling to receive their support. I am grateful for that opportunity and happy to serve the voters."

The election, he added, allowed him to meet great people across Southern Illinois, which has added to his appreciation for them.

On his time on the bench, Overstreet earlier told the Record, "I have been blessed the last 11 years, including these 16 months on the appellate court."

His election is to a 10-year term on the appellate court, which he has sat on since January, 2017, by appointment. It is not his first election as he previously ran for circuit court judge in the 2nd Judicial District.

Overall, Overstreet defeated his rival by around 240,000 to 175,000 votes, or a margin of 57.8 to 42.2 percent.

This smaller margin was largely due to St. Clair County voting in large numbers for Hoerner,, a Belleville attorney.. Hoerner won the county by the close to 10,000 votes.

At 52, Overstreet is the second youngest judge in the court after Judge John Barberis, who is 50. This reflects the overall younger trend on the court, one that leans conservative.

In the coming months, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier is expected to name a replacement for the at-large seat that Overstreet occupied on the appellate court prior to the election. If Karmeier chooses a Republican, the balance of the court will shift 5-2 Republican to Democrat. 

Outside of his work on the court, and the campaigning, Overstreet was recently selected to serve as treasurer of the Illinois Judges' Association, an organization he has been involved for some years, for a one year term. 

During his campaign, when he had to combine the job and the election, he maintained his position on the committee that is helping to place a digital reproduction of a famous 1860 photograph of Abraham Lincoln in all 102 Illinois county courthouses.

This is being done through a partnership with the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Illinois Judges Foundation, and the Illinois State Historical Society. It commemorates the Illinois bicentennial.

Overstreet was at the Madison County Courthouse when the portrait by Alexander Hesler was unveiled in the lobby of the Main Street, Edwardsville, building. He also attended similar ceremonies in St. Clair and Jefferson counties.

"What better representative of the highest legal and ethical standard," said Overstreet. "A premier lawyer, but he also served as a judge from time to time, chosen as a judge to preside over several cases."

Overstreet is also enthusiastic about other programs sponsored by the IJA, including where judges visit schools to warn against making poor decisions as youths.

He coaches youth sports, is a board member of Mentors for Kids, Inc. and Lifeboat Alliance, is a deacon at the Mt. Vernon Church of Christ, and is a member of the Mt. Vernon Rotary Club, a short biography released by the IJA states.

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court Illinois Judges Association

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