Election results: All Cook County judges won retention in 2022 election

Update (Nov. 30): With final results tallied and published by the Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Clerk’s office, all Cook County judges up for retention have won another term in office. The judge who came closest to losing her seat, Ann Finley Collins, received 61.31% of the vote.

Original story, published Nov. 9, 2022:

With up to 140,000 mail-in ballots still outstanding, preliminary results in the 2022 judicial retention elections show nearly all Cook County judges on a secure track to retain their seats.

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However, those results could change. In 2020, Judge Jackie Portman-Brown appeared headed for a narrow victory on election night, but ultimately lost her seat once mail-in ballots were counted and the final results were certified. To stay on the bench judges in Illinois must win 60% yes votes in a retention election.

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis and six appellate court judges won new 10-year terms and 52 Cook County circuit judges appeared to win new six-year terms. Two circuit judges were narrowly holding on as of Wednesday morning, but could still lose depending on the results from the remaining ballots.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans secured a sixth term with nearly 70% yes votes, despite calls from some elected officials and Chicago’s largest police union in the weeks leading up to the election to unseat him. Evans was re-elected to a record eighth term as chief judge by his circuit court colleagues in September.

The longest-serving circuit court judge in this year’s retention class, Sophia H. Hall, who was first elected to the court in 1980, was set to be re-elected to an eighth term by a double-digit margin.

The preliminary election results seem to show the continued influence of bar associations, groups of lawyers that evaluate and rate judicial candidates. The two judges who were closest to losing their seats, Ann Finley Collins and Rossana P. Fernandez, were the only judges to receive negative ratings from more than one bar association. With mail-in ballots still to count, both of them could still fall below the 60% threshold needed for retention.

William Hooks and Charles Burns, the two judges on this year’s ballot who preside over felony cases at the county’s Leighton Criminal Courthouse, appeared on track to keep their seats. Hooks received one negative rating, from the Illinois State Bar Association, while Burns, who was found qualified for retention by all the lawyers groups, maintained a comfortable lead with 69% yes votes as of Wednesday morning.

Since 1990, only two sitting Cook County judges have lost retention: Matthew Coghlan in 2018 and Portman-Brown in 2020.

Democrats will maintain their majority on the Illinois Supreme Court after Democratic Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford declared victory over Republican Mark Curran in one of two hotly contested races for the state’s highest court. In the 3rd district, Democrat Mary Kay O’Brien held a slight lead over Republican Supreme Court Justice Michael Burke. If she wins, Democrats would gain a seat for a 5-2 majority on the court.

In the only contested race for an open circuit court seat, in the northwest-suburban 13th subcircuit, Democrat Joe Gump defeated Republican Gary William Seyring, marking Seyring’s fourth unsuccessful run for the court.

The Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Clerk’s office will continue to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day until November 22 and then release final results.

Jonah Newman contributed reporting.

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