WOODSTOCK – In the race for two new 22nd Circuit judges, voters will choose between four Republicans competing to replace retired Judge Maureen McIntyre and two who filed for Charles Weech’s position.
Circuit Judge Tiffany Davis, R-Woodstock, and Associate Judge Joel Berg, R-Harvard, will compete for the vacancy left when Weech retired.
Davis was appointed earlier this year by the Illinois Supreme Court to succeed Weech, and she announced her candidacy to retain the seat in July.
With 22 years of experience as a prosecutor, Davis served nine years as a McHenry County assistant state’s attorney from 1998 to 2007 and 13 years as an assistant state’s attorney in Rockford.
Davis also has experience in family law and small claims from her time as a civil litigation associate in DuPage County.
“I believe the Illinois Supreme Court appointed me to the office of circuit judge after taking into consideration both my legal experience and my personal background,” Davis said in a statement when she announced her candidacy.
Her opponent, Berg, was appointed associate judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit in 2011. He previously served six years as an alderman on the Harvard City Council and spent 10 years on the Harvard Library board.
Additionally, Berg has 17 years of experience operating his law firm, which he opened four days after being sworn into the Illinois State Bar Association, he said.
“I’ve presided over every single kind of case that could come into that building,” Berg said. “... I have business experience. I have experience making sure the government stays within its budget. I’m the only candidate that can say all of those things.”
Berg is president of the McHenry County Bar Association.
Vying for the seat left vacant by McIntyre are McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, Assistant State’s Attorney Demetri Tsilimigras, defense attorney Ray Flavin and sitting Judge Robert Wilbrandt.
Wilbrandt, R-Woodstock, was promoted from associate judge to fill McIntyre’s vacancy and announced his intention to keep his seat in June.
“I think that in this type of a race, experience counts,” Wilbrandt said. “It is a policy position for the courts, and you need experience as a judge.”
Wilbrandt has served as a judge in McHenry County for more than 11 years and taught at McHenry County College for more than 25 years as an instructor of business, law and history.
He began his career as an intern in the McHenry County Public Defender’s Office, where he eventually became chief public defender.
He later moved to private practice and became a local prosecutor for the village of Fox River Grove before working as an advocate training attorney and legal adviser for McHenry County’s domestic violence agency, Turning Point.
He was appointed associate judge for McHenry County in 2006.
Flavin, R-Woodstock, said voters shouldn’t place too much value on judicial experience alone.
“I literally have more trial experience than all three of them combined times five – probably way more than that,” Flavin said.
Flavin has 25 years of law experience. The Democratic Party of McHenry County nominated him to run for state’s attorney after the party’s first choice withdrew, but he lost to Republican Patrick Kenneally.
“I think that I would be good at the job, and I think that it’s important to have people who represent the community, to represent the people who come before the judge,” Flavin said.
Last year, Flavin represented two men in a lawsuit against county officials, claiming that fines collected by the county’s 22nd Judicial Circuit were unconstitutional and defendants had been improperly charged millions of dollars.
He continues to work as a defense attorney at his private practice in Woodstock.
Surrendering her seat as county clerk, McClellan announced plans in June to enter the March primary to succeed McIntyre.
McClellan, R-Holiday Hills, worked for the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office after law school, and then went into private practice for civil rights cases, where she defended the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and other local units of government.
Voters elected McClellan as clerk in 2014 to succeed Republican Kathie Schultz, who retired after six terms in office. She had served two years on the McHenry County Board before deciding on the county clerk run.
McClellan said the 22nd Judicial Circuit could benefit from the “breadth of experience” she has gained in her 18 years of legal work.
“Judge McIntyre was one of the strongest female judges that we had in the county,” McClellan said. “It was those strong qualities that we need to make sure is there for the judiciary to protect the integrity of that position.”
Tsilimigras, R-Cary, has 20 years of legal experience and currently works as an assistant state’s attorney in McHenry County’s civil division. Before that, Tsilimigras worked as a deputy chief of the office’s criminal division.
“Every person that enters a courtroom should be treated with respect and have equal access to justice,” he said.
Tsilimigras previously served as Algonquin Township’s Republican chairman, as well as treasurer and secretary to the township’s Republican Party, according to his campaign site.
“I really think someone’s character is very, very important. I think all those things make you who you are, and that is going to come across when you’re sitting on the bench as a judge,” he said. “As this campaign evolves, the community will learn more about each one of us, and our characteristics, and what’s important to us – and they’re going to have to decide who is the best person for this position.”
AVAILABLE CAMPAIGN FUNDS
Wilbrandt – $80,695
Flavin – $20,533
McClellan – $18,379
Tsilimigras – $9,000
Davis – $21,163
Berg – $3,930
Source: Illinois Sunshine