Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Independent fever reaches judicial races

Scott Lee Cohen filed for Governor yesterday, as did William "Dock" Walls III. These filings were expected.

What was unexpected, however, at least to this observer, was that petitions would also be filed by attorney Roger Zamparo, seeking to challenge Ann Finley Collins, the Democratic nominee for the Riley vacancy in Cook County's 11th Judicial Subcircuit, and by attorney Keith Thiel, challenging Judge Daniel A. Pierce, the Democratic nominee for the "A" vacancy in the 14th Judicial Subcircuit.

That's a link to Zamparo's campaign website in the preceding paragraph; he also has a Roger Zamparo for Judge Facebook page. I have so far not found a Thiel campaign website; here is a link to his practice website.

Before these recent filings (Thiel yesterday and Zamparo on June 14th), both Collins and Pierce were unopposed in their November election bids. Collins, you may recall, emerged from a very crowded field in the 11th Subcircuit primary; Pierce, who is already serving on the bench pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, was unopposed in his primary bid.

Even in an election year when political independence may be in fashion, these filings come as a surprise because of the sheer difficulty of getting on the ballot.

Cook County subcircuit candidates running in the Democratic primary this year needed 500 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. This may seem like a small number to some, but only to those who have never tried to circulate petitions. Independent candidates, on the other hand, have to file, in the language posted on the Board of Elections website, "[n]ot less than 5% nor more than 8% of the total number of persons who voted at the last General Election within the district or judicial unit." In the 11th Subcircuit, according the ISBE, that's not less than 1,879 or more than 3,005 signatures. In the 14th Subcircuit, that translates to not less than 2,524 or more than 4,036.

These are onerous requirements, and you can bet that the full resources of the Collins and Pierce campaigns are being marshaled to ascertain whether either Zamparo or Theil have met them. The State Board of Elections reports that copies of both sets of petitions have been requested. This is a prerequisite to any potential challenge. The deadline for challenges to these independent candidacies is June 28.

The new 11th Subcircuit candidate, Roger Zamparo, pictured at right, has been an attorney since 1979. He maintains an office on North LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago. His campaign website says the current focus of his practice in civil litigation, "especially mortgage fraud cases," he claims a variety of experience in "divorce, real estate, personal injury, employment, criminal, and professional malpractice" cases.

14th Subcircuit hopeful Keith Thiel has been an attorney since 2004. His office site focuses on his representation of defendants in criminal cases but the site advises that Thiel is also available to handle bankruptcy, personal injury, divorce and real estate cases.

Corrected June 30, 2010.


Anonymous said...

I have met attorney Keith Thiel. He is seems to be an excellent attorney. I am sure he will make a fair judge as well. It's time to put a check on the insider politics in this city, we need fresh independent thinkers. Glad to see this post!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the person above. We do need candidates other than the establishment candidates to run. How can one truly consider her or himself "elected" if she or he is unopposed? There is nothing wrong with choice. I would argue that it is necessary for a real democracy.