Judicial Candidates Forum
Twelve candidates for the 18th Judicial Circuit recently stopped by the Cantigny Park auditorium to answer questions in a forum hosted by the DuPage chapter of the NAACP.
“Tonight is not a debate,” said Dr. Vincent Gaddis, criminal justice chair of the DuPage County NAACP. “This is about candidates speaking about what they believe. What their positions are. Not other people’s positions, your position.”
The judicial candidates were split into two groups and asked various questions about diversity, bias, and other relevant topics – though not every candidate was asked the same questions.
Dealing with Diversity
Judge James McCluskey, Richard Veenstra, and Jill Otte provided examples of how they deal with diversity.
“I think the key here is when you’re a judge you have to listen, not interrupt,” said McCluskey. “Because you’re here to serve them, they’re not here to serve you.”
“Learning from what those people are bringing to you, that unique perspective, learning what they bring to the table, and listening and really hearing their concerns is a big part of what I do,” said Veenstra.
“What I’ve discovered in my supervisory capacity is it really is a matter of treating people with respect,” said Otte. “And having those conversations that sometimes are difficult.”
Addressing Race and Gender Bias
Judge Monique O’Toole, Alice Wilson, and David Stevens were each asked if the legal system adequately addresses issues of race and gender bias.
“Yes, I do believe that DuPage County and our country addresses those issues, specifically with regard to gender bias,” said O’Toole.
“I do believe there is more that needs to be done, specifically when it comes to African-Americans and equality,” said Wilson.
“There are issues,” said Stevens. “We can’t ignore these issues and what we need, and I believe what we have in DuPage County are good judges who treat people fairly.”
Peggy O’Connell is also running, but did not attend the forum.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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