The Gubernatorial Primary Election is on June 28, 2022. When it comes to voting for judges, voters almost know nothing about the candidates on the ballot. It’s important to be informed and do research on the candidates before voting because they make day-to-day decisions in the community.
Historically, black women have earned their right to be represented in the court. Trailblazers such as Jane Bolin, the first black female judge, and others have paved the way and planted the seed for future women to reach their highest goals. Meet the black female judicial candidates running for the bench who will bring their experience, integrity, fairer judicial decisions, and the need for diversity on the bench because representation matters. Voting matters to put fair-minded judges on the bench.
Maria M. Barlow – Democrat for Cook County 1st Judicial Subcircuit
Why are you running for judge? We absolutely need representation on the bench. We need judges that understand people from diverse backgrounds. The seat I am running for is where I have lived my entire life. It’s important to have diversity on the bench because the people that predominately appear before the bench are people of color.
Top Priorities: To listen and judge fairly and give everyone their day in court. I want to make sure when people appear in front of me, they are appearing in front of someone that they feel like even though the judge ruled against them, they listened to me and respected me, heard my side of the story, and made a fair ruling. That is my goal.
Meridth Hammer – Democrat for Cook County Circuit Court Judge
Why are you running for judge? I want to continue my life’s work of servicing people and giving back to the community. Being a judge is the highest position of public service in our court system, and they make decisions every day that change people’s lives. I want to do more of that on the bench on a higher level. I also want to influence young black girls to follow their dreams.
Top Priorities: Putting more technology in our court systems in Cook County to provide greater, more efficient, and cost-effective access to the courts and, therefore, access to justice.
Jenetia Marshall – Democrat for Cook County 5th Judicial Subcircuit
Why are you running for judge? We need to diversify the bench. Not just as to race, ethnicity, and sex, but as to knowledge, background and experience. I believe that my background brings a unique perspective to the bench. I started my career in education. I went from education to social work and law. Public service is my life. I’ve chosen those paths where I can be best used within our community.
Top Priorities: Work to make some changes within the judiciary so that there is greater access, such as reducing litigation costs because that makes the ability to litigate difficult for people and trying to increase the resources that are available. I want anyone who comes before me on the bench to feel that they had their day in court regardless of the ultimate decision.
Jackie Marie Portman-Brown – Democrat for Cook County 5th Judicial Subcircuit
Why are you running for judge? I have always had a desire to help the people of the State of Illinois as early as a child. I was born in Englewood. I saw a lot of things that didn’t look right. When I went to court with my aunt, I didn’t see any judges that looked like me. I’m running under a subcircuit work created so that the under-represented could have a proper representation upon the bench, not only facially, but representation from individuals who live in the community and experience what we go through in the community when expelling justice. There needs to be a multi-cultural diverse court.
Top Priorities: To be fair and impartial and give everyone an opportunity to speak their truth, listen to what the people are saying, and provide the necessary tools and resources.
Chesley Robinson – Democrat for Cook County Circuit Court Judge
Why are you running for judge? I aim to be the change I want to see on the bench. I am experienced, fair, and dedicated to justice for all. My goal is to make sure that everyone that comes before me has a meaningful day in court. So many times, people are afraid to exercise their constitutional rights to a trial because they believe the judge has decided the case against them even before they have an opportunity to speak. It’s important that we have unbiased judges on the bench that are truly dedicated to equal justice for all.
Top Priorities: In addition to making sure that every litigant has a meaningful opportunity to be heard, my top priority is to make sure that every person is respected in the courtroom. A judge’s temperament is very important. Litigants, attorneys, and court staff should be treated with respect, in fact, they should be treated with the same respect the judge demands.
Monica Somerville – Democrat for Cook County Circuit Court Judge
Why are you running for judge? We need good qualified fair judges on the bench. I have been an attorney for 31 years, and I have a diverse legal background in housing, worker’s compensation, personal injury, unemployment insurance, employment discrimination, and municipal law. I have the experience and qualifications to be a judge. Fairness and treating people with respect is something I believe in. People should not walk into the courtroom and feel like the judge’s mind has already been made. I am committed to changing that.
Top Priorities: Bringing confidence back to the judiciary that I feel is lacking and having the courtroom back in the classroom. I want to have a program for judges to work with high school students about cases and have that interaction. Education and exposure are going to help educate young people in our community.
Mable Taylor – Democrat for Cook County Circuit Court Judge
Why are you running for judge? I have a passion for justice and the fairness of getting it right. It’s important, and it matters who wears the robe. I’m committed to justice for the residence of Cook County. I understand that judge’s rulings affect our families, neighbors, and people’s lives. It’s important that we get it right. We need more judges that share our life experiences.
Top Priorities: To always get it right. I’m a passionate person about research. I will also be fair and impartial to each person who appears before me and has no preferences for either side. My goal is to make sure that when someone appears in front of the bench, they will be treated with integrity and respect.
Wende Williams – Democrat for Cook County Circuit Court Judge
Why are you running for judge: I am experienced, trained, and committed to bringing care and compassion to the courtroom. My brother was falsely accused of crimes exposing him to 16 to 48 years of incarceration. After three days, he was released from jail. All charges were dropped. Fortunately, that experience heightened my sense of the need for fair play and equal justice in the courtroom for civil and criminal cases.
Top Priorities: Equal justice for the cases assigned to my courtroom. That means listening to both sides, reviewing the evidence and testimony. When I render a decision, I will be conscientious and careful in the application of the law to facts in cases before me. Objectively, I will use discretion and fair play when rendering a finding, a sentence, a decision, and/or a verdict in cases over which I preside. More importantly, I will continue to participate in activities in all of Cook County communities to help improve social and economic conditions for all.
For more information on key dates for the June 28, 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election, go to https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/current-elections/2022-elections
Tammy Gibson is an author, re-enactor, and black history traveler. Find her on social media @sankofatravelher.