Kane County Court Circuit Judge Karen Simpson has announced she will retire, which means her successor will emerge from March primary and the general election in November.
The field already has one hopeful as Marmarie Kostelny, an associate judge in Kane County since 2006, has declared her candidacy as a Republican.
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Circuit judges are elected by voters; associate judges are appointed by circuit judges.
Simpson, a St. Charles Republican, first became a judge in late 1997 and currently presides over a felony courtroom at the Kane County Judicial Center where the most serious criminal cases are heard.
Simpson's impending vacancy was officially listed late last week on the Illinois State Board of Elections website. Joe Tybor, spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court, said Simpson submitted a letter to the supreme court in mid-September indicating her plan to retire effective Oct. 6, 2014.
Simpson, who did not respond to repeated phone messages, was appointed associate judge in December 1997, Tybor said. She was reappointed to the bench in 2003, 2007 before being elected as a Circuit Judge in November 2010.
"I've lived and practiced in the 16th Judicial Circuit. I'm familiar with both sides of the bench here," said Simpson, also a former prosecutor, in November 2009 when submitting her papers to run for circuit judge.
Simpson also served as a mentor for new judges and oversaw juvenile court.
Kostelny, an Elgin resident, served 20 years in an private practice in Elgin before her appointment as an associate judge. A former adjunct professor at Elgin Community College, Kostelny currently presides over the Kane County Drug Rehabilitation Court. She also heard felony cases for two years.
Kostelny said she enjoys her role in drug court, but sees the circuit judge's position as a chance to help initiate systemic changes in the court system.
"As a circuit judge, you have an opportunity to assist in making the system itself work better and more efficient," said Kostelny, a 1987 Elgin High School graduate who earned her law degree in 1985 from DePaul University.
"I believe I have been a hardworking judge," she added. "I have been reliable on the bench. I have a record of making sound decisions and hopefully that will encourage people to vote for me."
Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said Simpson's vacancy means a her seat will be on the March 18 primary ballot as well as the Nov. 4, 2014 general election.