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Half Week | March 13: Voting for judges, H-F teams succeed, Girls STEAM Ahead deadline

Sorority election forum offers help on voting for judges

When it comes to paying attention and participating in the most important elections, Judge Lloyd Brooks thinks many voters have their priorities backward.

At a judicial forum on Feb. 17 in the Flossmoor village hall board room, Brooks noted that voters seem to pay the most attention to presidential elections every four years in November.

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Brooks said the March primary elections are where the decisions are made about who will most directly affect voters’ lives, especially in the Democratic stronghold of Cook County. There are few Republican challengers, so the judges elected in March are, in most cases, the ones who win the seat, he said.

“So we have to vote in March, yet so many of us don’t,” he said. “You will never meet the president or the governor.” More people will meet judges, and those judges can have a profound impact on their lives.

Brooks noted that judges make decisions, for example, about whether someone gets child custody in divorce cases, whether someone gets evicted from their home, whether someone’s home is foreclosed.

The forum was sponsored by the Theta Rho Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Panelists were Tondalaya Lloyd, retired judge Leslie South and Joyce Williams of the Illinois Bar Association. Joining them were judges Alan Walker, John A. Fairman, Rivanda Doss Beal, Lloyd J. Brooks, Ava Stewart,  Yolanda H. Sayre and Justice Cynthia Cobbs.

The event was intended to help voters better understand judicial elections. As Williams noted, “There’s long been confusion among voters as to who are these people who want your votes, what separates them from someone else running for the same office and why am I going to the polling place twice in an election year?”

She said she’s heard of people going down the judicial ballot and voting to retain every other judge, or voting “yes” for women and “no” for men, or vice versa.

A handout created by Williams (attached below) was distributed at the forum that included explanations about why people should vote for judges, the difference between primary and general elections, the differences between the county circuit and subcircuit districts, the different levels of court in the state, the organizations that evaluate judges and issue recommendations and what those recommendations mean.

“We want you to be informed,” she said.

Williams said the recommendations issued by the state bar association are strictly advisory, and candidates should not characterize them as endorsements.

Judges are assessed by trained lawyers and retired judges, and they consider candidates’ legal knowledge, sensitivity to diversity and bias, impartiality and integrity, temperament, character, diligence and punctuality, community services, respect for the rule of law, independence from political and institutional influence, health and age.

Lloyd, an attorney who sits on the Judicial Evaluations Committee of the Black Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, said in her work evaluating judges, she considers the ideal temperament for a judge as “somebody to listen. Who’s not going to yell? Who’s not gonna talk down? Who’s going to read the case file, know what’s going on and treat everyone in the courtroom with respect?”

The judicial candidates described further the rigorous vetting process they go through.

Sayre noted that in addition to review by bar associations, candidates are vetted by party slating committees.

Walker said associate judges don’t go through the slating process, but in addition to bar association review, they are interviewed by every circuit court judge in the county.

“The full circuit court judges know what judges do and should be able to do because they are judges,” he said. “So the scrutiny that associate judges get is significant. While associate judges don’t come before you to get your votes, as the elected judges do, rest assured that somebody has reviewed them thoroughly.”

Resources:

H-F teams excel. Of course, the boys varsity basketball team is basking in the well-deserved adulation after winning the IHSA Class 4A state championship Saturday, March 9. But other Homewood-Flossmoor High teams are making their mark, too. From the school’s Facebook page:

The Special Olympics basketball team took third place at state last weekend.

The varsity Scholastic Bowl team won the IHSA Sectional Championship at Lincoln-Way East defeating No. 1 seed Sandburg 420-390 and No. 2 seed Lincoln-Way East 360-350. The team is now one of the final eight teams and will compete at the IHSA State Tournament this Saturday, March 16, in Normal.

The Debate Team competed at Belleville West High School and took home third place in Novice Public Forum and second place in both Junior Varsity and Novice Lincoln Douglas. The team will compete at state this weekend.

On Friday, March 8, the Multicultural Student Achievement Network (MSAN) students presented at National School Public Relations Association’s “Uncomfortable Conversations: Centering Student Voice in Your Communications Planning” at NIU Naperville. The group is led by H-F Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Catherine Ross-Cook. The student presented on what they’re doing to amplify student voices and how school leaders can support equity initiatives for the student body.

Flossmoor history. As part of the observance of two history milestones this year the village’s centennial and Flossmoor Public Library’s 70th anniversary the library launched a history section on its website here.

Girls STEAM Celebration deadline. Friday, March 15, is the last day to register for the Homewood Science Center’s annual event for teen girls interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and math fields of study. There are separate application forms for students and for mentors. The speaker will be Dr. Shy Brown, who is a trained biochemist and has specialized in areas of research such as exercise science, sports physiology, bioinformatics, immunology and cancer biology. She was the first Black woman to join the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI).

Vision in Motion. A Place of Zen, 18360 Governors Highway, will host a photography event for businesses from noon to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 17. The event is designed for anyone looking to enhance their visual storytelling skills. Participants will get a time slot to work with a professional photographer. Buy tickets here.

Hidden Gem gems. In an email to Hidden Gem Half Marathon volunteers this week, Brent Bachus shared several quotes from the Chicago Area Runners Association that illustrate why the Hidden Gem has been named Race of the Year the past two years.

  • “This was one of the best half marathons I have ever been a part of! Loved all the volunteers and supporters along the course including the band and cheerleaders. It really did showcase Homewood-Flossmoor.” 
  • “This event deserves to win CARA race of the year again! The community support is unrivaled.”
  • “This race opened my eyes to Flossmoor, a community I had never been to. The warm and enthusiastic crowd support, racial diversity, all-out civic involvement and tremendous community spirit were as good as anything I have experienced in 40 years of running. Keep it up!”
  • “This was one of the most fun half marathons I’ve done (and I’m at about 40) I am already planning on doing next year!!”
  • “Excellent job! It’s a wonderful local race, very well organized and community support is outstanding.”

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