John Dalton, a judicial candidate for Kane County's 16th Circuit Court, defended his qualifications in front of voters, sparring with opponent John Walters, whom Dalton said has lied on the campaign trail and withheld information.
The two faced off Tuesday during a candidates forum hosted by the political group Elgin OCTAVE that became contentious at times.
Walters, appointed to the bench last year, told voters he is the candidate with experience.
Dalton, a trial attorney for 25 years, said he has represented clients ranging from low-income individuals to multinational corporations in state, federal and bankruptcy courts. He attended law school at the University of Illinois, which he called one of the premiere law schools in the Midwest.
Walters was a practicing attorney for 34 years in Elgin, handling cases involving traffic, family, personal injury and real estate issues. He went to John Marshall Law School in Chicago, which he defended after an audience member called it a fourth-tier school.
"If people want to call it fourth-tier, they can, but we had competitive, good students in that class who have done a lot of good things," Walters said.
Walters has trumpeted his recommendation by the Kane County Bar Association, pointing out that Dalton was not recommended by the same group.
Dalton said the decision was partisan and pointed to the Illinois State Bar Association's results. The organization did not recommend Walters based on a survey submitted by attorneys who have worked with him. Walters scored lowest on legal ability in a questionnaire that also covered integrity, impartiality, temperament, court management, health and sensitivity.
Dalton was not rated because there were too few responses to the questionnaire.
After an audience question about candidate disclosures, Dalton accused Walters of a lack of transparency, saying he did not comply with legal requirements to disclose campaign expenditures.
"If we can't trust him as a candidate to follow the law, how can we trust him to follow the law as a judge?" Dalton asked.
Walters said the company that makes his signs also prints his other marketing material, and said his campaign treasurer has taken care of reporting funding matters.
In a rebuttal, Dalton pressed the point, showing ads that appeared in Elgin newspapers and that payment for the ads were not disclosed on the most recent financial disclosure report.
Walters did not respond.
The circuit in which Dalton and Walters are running covers Elgin, West Dundee, Carpentersville and Sleepy Hollow.