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Supreme Court controversy hot topic in 12th Judicial Circuit election

Megann Horstead, Reporter – news@thetimesweekly.com | 10/31/2018, 10:38 p.m.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court controversy over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the Nov. 6 election brings added importance to candidates for the Circuit Court 12th Judicial Circuit.

In the race for the seat of retired judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes are Democratic nominee Vincent F. Cornelius and Republican challenger Victoria McKay Kennison.

Another post formerly held by retired judge Daniel Rozak is at stakes for Republican candidate Ben Braun and Democratic opponent David Garcia.

Cornelius said he views the election having great importance for many voters, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court controversy.

“The reason I say that is because this is an election [we will] remember for decades to come,” he said. “Because of the age of the judiciary, there will be fewer elections going forward concerning judges. A recent flurry of retirements has already begun to form the court of Will County.”

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump’s decision to select Kavanaugh as a potential candidate to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy has received backlash. The confirmation was later delayed, in part, because of sexual assault allegations and action taken to investigate the matter.

Cornelius explained his thoughts on the matter further, saying the process of hearing and confirming Kavanaugh was less than ideal.

“The president is entitled to appoint a Supreme Court justice to fill a vacancy during the term of his presidency,” he said. “When that happens, the president should consider the entire nation, not a segment of the nation.”

Kennison did not negate the election’s importance to voters.

“This election is important to all Will County citizens,” she said. “This circuit court race is about who is better qualified to hear all types of Will County court cases, and who has the on-the-job experience to supervise other Will County judges. It has been 16 years since Will County has had a single, county-wide circuit court race, and this year, there are two open positions on the ballot.”

Kennison declined to comment further on the Supreme Court controversy and how she views the matter.

Kennison touted, among several differences between she and her opponent, her judicial experience as an associate judge in Will County the past seven years.

Cornelius does not have any judicial experience.

“Will County needs a circuit court judge with a proven track record of treating everyone fairly and equally under the law,” Kennison said. “A circuit court judge should have a history of resolving cases in a fair and just manner while treating everyone with respect and dignity. I am the only candidate in my race with judicial experience, and I am recommended by the Will County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.”

Cornelius wanted the distinctions between he and his opponent to be made clear.

“My years in the practice are significantly longer,” he said. “My trial experience is significantly greater. We were both evaluated by the Illinois State Bar Association and Will County Bar Association lawyers, and my ratings were higher than hers in important categories—impartiality, integrity.”

Garcia said it’s possible the Supreme Court controversy may bring added meaning to voters this election season.

“I think it’s significant only at the point that you need qualified judges on the bench without controversy,” he said. “I have to run as a Democrat, but I’m a strong believer that a judge has to be impartial. … The law has to be applied evenly to everybody. You can’t have these preconceived notions.”

Garcia was appointed in 2013 to associate judge for Will County. He has experience in real estate, traffic, divorce, traffic and criminal law.

Garcia said the county needs a judge, like himself, presiding over the circuit court.

“A judge has to be a peacemaker,” he said, noting the laws are not that complicated. He said that getting “people to start looking at overall picture is the hard part.”

Garcia’s opponent, Braun had no response to this article.

For information, visit thewillcountyclerk.com