More than 20 contenders for various state and local positions spoke with West Side voters Feb. 18 at Bethel New Life’s candidate forum.
Hopeful candidates vying for positions ranging from the Illinois Supreme Court, Cook County’s Circuit and Appellate court, 37th Ward Committeeman, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District made an appearance at the forum, held at 1140 N. Lamon Ave.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who’s running for 37th Ward committeeman and as a 7th congressional district delegate agent for President Barack Obama’s campaign, was pleased to welcome all the candidates to Austin.
“I want to thank the 37th Ward because I am unopposed, but I thought I’d show up because you’re in the 37th Ward for all those candidates who are looking to win the 37th Ward,” Mitts said to a packed room.
“If you haven’t seen me, you need to see me. We don’t play over here.”
Appellate Court Justice Joy Cunningham, candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court, said the state’s Supreme Court vacancy is a rare occasion.
The terms are 10 years long and renewable for another 10, she said.
It’s important to bring justices to the court with a wide range of experiences and diversity, she said.
“I would be the first African-American woman that would sit on the Illinois Supreme Court, and I think that is important,” she said.
Marguerite Quinn, who’s running for Cook County’s appellate court, said out of the 24 appellate court judge positions in the first district, only six are occupied by women.
“That’s a problem,” Quinn said.
When asked by a community member in the audience what change she and the other judges would like to see made in Illinois’ judicial system, she said more judges need to reach out to children.
“Teens by their job description are not very sensible,” Quinn said. “A lot of our teens get into a lot of trouble because they’re stupid, quite frankly.”
Quinn said she goes to various high school classrooms and presents them with different legal scenarios.
“I say, ‘What do you think is going to happen?’ They’re shocked when they find out a very small amount of cocaine will land them in jail.”
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, who’s running for re-election, also answered the question, saying she wants to see every courtroom in Illinois retrofitted with cameras so the public can watch the proceedings.
“Everyone that’s in that courtroom I think would be a little bit more on their p’s and q’s,” Brown said.
She also wants to see mandatory electronic filing.
“That would save us a lot of money and help us to manage the budget more expeditiously in a more efficient manner,” Brown said.
Circuit Court Judge Stanley Hill, who’s running for re-election, said circuit court judges are the most important judges West Side voters can elect.
“Most people who see a judge see that judge in the circuit court,” Hill said.
“You hear about people who sit in jail for years waiting for their case to be reversed because some circuit court judge got it wrong. You want to make sure you put people in the circuit court who get it right the first time.”