Political newcomer and Democrat John G. Dalton will face former Kane County Stateâ€™s Attorney and Republican David Akemann Nov. 2 in a race for a 16th Judicial Circuit judgeship.
John G. Dalton
Family: Married, no children
Hometown: Born in Evanston, Ill., lives in Elgin
Education: Graduated magna cum laude from both Augustana College and law school at the University of Illinois
Employment: Attorney for 23 years, working for law firms such as Skadden Arps, served as a senior vice president of a global bank, and owned own practice. Was an Arbitration Chairman for 10 years, managing a courtroom, ruling on objections and rendering decisions in hundreds of cases
â€¢Â Deacon, First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Elgin
â€¢Â Board member of the Campanelli YMCA, serving for more than 10 years, including a number of leadership posts and receiving both the Twinbrook Award and the Service to Youth Award
â€¢Â Co-founder and former Chairman of Elgin’s Speak Out Against Prejudice (SOAP) organization, which recently received the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award “for outstanding achievement in the field of civil rights/community relations advocacy.”
â€¢Â Commissioner of the Elgin Heritage Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee
â€¢Â Board Chairman and Finance Committee Chairman of Famous Door Theatre Company and recipient of the Chicago Business Volunteers for the Arts Award
â€¢Â Member of School District U-46 Handbook Committee
â€¢Â Member Kane County Bar Association, serving on the Bench and Bar Committee
â€¢Â Member Elgin Hispanic Network (EHN)
â€¢Â Member Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA)
â€¢Â Member NorthEast Neighborhood Association (NENA)
â€¢Â Member Elgin Chamber of Commerce, among others.
John Dalton said he decided to run for judge after someone asked him to do so, and he realized it was an opportunity to further serve his community.
â€œThis community has given me a great deal, and I want to give back,â€ he said.
He said he is not a professional politician, and this is his first time running for an elected office.
â€œHowever, I have served my community in many ways, some of which are listed above, and at the risk of immodesty, I believe I have excellent credentials, good judgment and an inherent sense of fairness,â€ Dalton said. â€œI have over 85 endorsements for a reason.â€
He said the role of a judge is straightforward.
â€œI believe in hard work, personal accountability, transparency, diversity, precedent and tradition,â€ Dalton said. â€œI believe in keeping an open mind until all the evidence is in, and the possibility of grace and redemption. I believe the job of a judge is to be nonpartisan, follow the law, listen to both sides and treat everyone fairly, with dignity and respect. If elected, that’s the kind of judge I’ll be.â€
Beyond filling that type of judicial role, he said that if elected, he would urge the court to implement practices that would save time and money. He said he would implement an online system that would allow residents to pay traffic fines, seek court supervision or request a trial date without having to appear in court.
â€œThe result would be fewer minor, routine cases heard in a courtroom, saving money for taxpayers,â€ Dalton said. â€œWe’d save money on judges, clerks, bailiffs, courtrooms, etc., and the public wouldn’t have to take time away from work or family to spend the day in court.â€
David R. Akemann
Family: Married for 32 years to Vickie, three children
Hometown: Lifelong Kane County resident from Elgin
Education: Elgin High School, Beloit College, Brigham Young University Bachelor of Science Degree, J.D. degree from Lewis University College of Law (now Northern Illinois University College of Law)
Employment: Started career in 1977 as intern in the Kane County Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s Office. Appointed as an Assistant Stateâ€™s Attorney in 1978, served as Chief of the Civil Division in the office. Also served as Chief of the Civil Division of the McHenry County Stateâ€™s Attorney Office. Was elected Kane County stateâ€™s Attorney in 1992, 1996. Served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Justice Division, Special Prosecutions Bureau. Was appointed by the Illinois Attorney General as the Executive Director: Illinois Gang Crime Prevention Center. Currently serves as head of the Law Offices of David R. Akemann.
Community involvement: Co-founder of Children’s Theater of Elgin and Fox Valley Youth Theater; member of Epworth United Methodist Church for 44 years, having served there in many various offices, national, regional and local. Served as a Larkin High School PTO Scholarship Co-chair and a United Way and PADS Volunteer. Currently serves on the Board of Director’s for the Dad’s Association for the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana.
David Akemann brings two terms as the Kane County Stateâ€™s Attorney to the campaign, and said that experience is what sets him apart from his opponent.
Through his time in office, he said that he has personally prosecuted first-degree murder cases and successfully sought the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes. He said that experience with the maximum possible legal penalty gives him a strong context with which he would work.
â€œThe balance is that the maximum penalty is not always appropriate,â€ Akemann said. â€œAs Kane County State’s Attorney, I recognized this by establishing the highly successful second-chance program for first time, non-violent offenders.â€
Akemann said he would look to other non-traditional approaches to his role, seeking ways to dispose of cases more quickly, such as early screening for alternative solutions like diversion programs.
â€œMoving cases from probation to conditional discharge, requiring mediation in civil cases and increasing the use of pretrial conferences to move cases along are all viable options,â€ he said. â€œNight court, Saturday court, video court and field courts and the use of hearing officers to handle municipal ordinance violations would be other options.â€
He said that the number-one need on the bench is to make sure that justice under the constitution and the law occurs inside the courtroom.
â€œJudges need to treat everyone with dignity and respect,â€ Akemann said. â€œThis can be difficult when resources are scarce and time is short and there are large numbers of citizens that need to be heard in a small amount of time.â€
He said that to address the issue of few resources and limited time, individuals in the judiciary â€œneed to be a part of the solution in making government more efficient and to not waste the time of employers or workers so that they can both earn more. Let’s not waste the time for jurors or witnesses. Let’s not allow endless continuances that drain precious time and resources and make people unpleasant.â€