The Trouble with ‘Midterms’


By Dawn DeSart
ACE Campaigns and Candidates Team Leader
Candidate for DuPage County Board, District 5

There’s a problem with “midterms.” No, not the elections themselves, but with the moniker of midterms. The word sounds like “halftime,” as in “halftime” during a football game, when you get up off your La-Z-Boy®, stretch, maybe use the restroom, maybe grab another beverage, and relax a bit until the thrill of the game begins again for the second half.

The midterm election, especially this midterm election on November 6th, is too important to be shrugged off as halftime between when 45 was elected and when (God willing) he is replaced in 2020. This midterm, voters have the opportunity to change the faces in Congress to reflect most Americans’ values, to elect people who will stand up to and call out 45’s egocentric agenda.

What’s at stake? Political commentator and radio host, Thom Hartmann, characterizes the nation’s political sides this way. “In 2018, being a conservative means being in favor of rich people and corporations running the country,” he says. “Being a progressive means you are in favor of ‘We, the People’ running the country.”

The upcoming midterms are our shot at taking back control of the House and the Senate, allowing “We, the People” to once again lead this great country.

Tired of the hatred? Me, too! The vitriol and negativity spewed by this president is utterly exhausting. Christian pastor and author, John Pavlovitz, writes on his blog that “we don’t need to convince or coddle or win over hatred, and we don’t need to outdo it either. We need to outnumber it. We need to outlove it. We need to outvote it.”

The midterms on November 6th is our opportunity to vote it out.

But, what’s in a name? I was reminded of how weak midterms sounds when I heard radio host Norman Goldman call the upcoming election the “congressional election.”

Yes! Now that’s powerful!

November’s “congressional election” is vital to elect brave, ethical leaders who will work toward affordable healthcare, education, jobs and wages, and clean energy. People who will not use our valuable resources toward things that don’t benefit real people, like the Space Force and the Wall.

Congressional elections matter now more than ever!

This is not halftime, this is act time!

Time to get up out of your La-Z-Boy® and act, march, volunteer, make calls on behalf of candidates, register to vote, donate, talk to your friends and neighbors, and most of all, vote on November 6th.

Vote in this congressional election, as if your country is at stake.

Because it is.


A five-time Emmy Award winner, Dawn DeSart is a journalist and local activist. She is running for the DuPage County Board, District 5, and has previously held positions on the Indian Prairie School District 204 School Board, the Wheatland Township Democrats, and the Fox Valley United Way. In 2000, then Naperville mayor A. George Pradel declared May 9th as “Dawn DeSart Day” in Naperville. For more information on Dawn, visit her website.

Voting for Judges: It Can Be a Matter of Life and Death


By Anne Swanson, ACE Federal and State Budgets Team Leader

How do you vote for judges? Look at the names and pick someone who sounds good? Do you ever think to ask friends who might be lawyers their opinions about the judges before the election?

Researching the judicial candidates is the same no matter what circuit you are in. I am writing from the perspective of the 18th Judicial Circuit, which is a single county circuit, in DuPage County.

Here are some guidelines on how to research your judicial candidates.

What’s the difference between an associate judge and a full circuit judge?

Both associate and full circuit judges sit on the bench and conduct the business of the courtroom from motions to trials. Associate judges are appointed by the circuit judges. Circuit judges may hear any case assigned to them by the Chief Judge. Associate judges may not preside over criminal cases in which the defendant is charged with an offense punishable by imprisonment for one year or more (felonies).

Who’s elected?

Supreme court, appellate court, and circuit judges are elected. The circuit judges elect one judge from among them to be the Chief Judge of the circuit. Elected judges may seek to retain their position. When you see a name in parentheses for a judicial position, it is the name of the judge whose position is being filled. That judge is leaving that position.

How to research a judge’s record

The best place to research those running for judge is the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) website. The ISBA provides public information about the qualifications of judicial candidates and judges seeking retention. This year, the evaluations will be available after February 23. Here is a portion of what the ISBA website explains.

Judicial vacancies  

The office of a judge is vacant upon death, resignation, retirement, removal, or upon conclusion of their term without retention in office. Supreme and Appellate Court judges are elected by voters in their Judicial District. Circuit Court judges are elected by voters in their Judicial Circuit or county. Supreme and Appellate Court judges serve ten-year terms, while Circuit Court judges serve six-year terms. At the end of their term, each are required to file for retention to serve longer.

Voting for judicial retention 

At the end of the term of Supreme, Appellate, and Circuit judges, each may file a declaration of candidacy to succeed themselves. The names of the judges seeking retention are submitted to eligible voters in the appropriate Supreme and Appellate Court Districts and in the appropriate Judicial Circuits or counties for retention of Circuit judges. Judges seeking retention are listed on the ballot separately and without party designation. Voters are asked the sole question of whether each judge should be retained in office for another term. An affirmative vote of three-fifths (60%) of the electors voting on the question elects the judge to the office for another term.

Judicial evaluations

Candidates who are seeking election to Appellate or Supreme Court judicial vacancies and judges seeking retention to their Appellate or Supreme Court positions are reviewed in a comprehensive evaluation process called Judicial Evaluations. This involves a detailed background investigation by members of the ISBA Judicial Evaluations Committee, followed by an in-person interview of the candidate or judge. The committee then decides how to rate the candidate or judge. Ratings for candidates seeking election to the Appellate or Supreme Court are rated Qualified, Highly Qualified, or Not Qualified. Judges seeking retention are rated Recommended or Not Recommended. The Judicial Evaluations Ratings express the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association.

In counties outside of Cook, ISBA conducts an advisory poll. The poll is conducted by mail and is sent to all ISBA members in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks election or a judge seeks retention. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA, or any attorney outside the circuit or district, may also request a ballot. Participants of the poll are asked to evaluate each candidate only if they have professional knowledge of the candidate(s) that enables them to make an informed evaluation. Ballots are confidential and returned inside a ballot envelope, which is mailed in a teller envelope. A certification slip stating that the participant read and understood the instructions of the poll is signed for the ballot to be counted.

Candidates and judges are rated “recommended” or “not recommended” based on whether respondents agree that the candidate “meets acceptable requirements for the office.” Those receiving 65 percent or more “yes” responses to that question are rated “recommended,” and those receiving less than 65 percent are rated “not recommended.” Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association or the opinion of all Illinois attorneys.

Following are the questions asked on the poll. Please note that questions on “Temperament and Court Management” differ for those seeking a judicial vacancy and those seeking retention. Clarification of those differences are noted below.

Meets Requirements of Office

(Recommendation) Considering the qualifications of the candidate, do you believe this candidate meets acceptable requirements for the office?


Adhere to the high standards of integrity and ethical conduct required of the office?


Act and rule impartially and free of any predisposition or improper influence?

Legal Ability

Have adequate legal experience, knowledge, and ability?


for a judicial vacancy:
 Exercise appropriate temperament with courtesy, consideration, firmness, fairness, patience, and dignity?

for judicial retention:
 Exercise the judicial temperament to serve with appropriate courtesy, consideration, firmness, fairness, patience, and dignity?

Court Management

for a judicial vacancy:
 Attends to all professional responsibilities including the management of cases/clients, and completes work in a prompt and skillful manner?

for judicial retention:
 Diligently and promptly attends to the duties of the office and assures the steady progress of court business?


Have the physical, mental and emotional health, stamina, and stability needed to perform judicial duties?

Sensitivity to Diversity and Bias

Conducts self and deals with others appropriately to reduce or eliminate conduct or words which manifest bias based on race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status against parties, witnesses, counsel or others?

As in any election, it is important to do your homework. Judges do matter. Sometimes it can be a matter of life or death.



Information taken from the Illinois State Constitution and the Illinois State Bar Association website.


**3/2/18: The DuPage County Bar Association has released it’s judicial recommendations. Click here to read about the 2018 candidates.**


ACE Federal and State Budgets Team Leader Anne Swanson practiced law in DuPage County for 25 years. She also served as the DuPage County Arbitration Administrator.  She is now retired and is happily selling books at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville.