Noland: Door-to-door push was difference in winning judge seat
Former Elgin state Sen. Michael Noland estimates he went 15 miles on his Segway almost every day from the beginning of July to this week campaigning for a circuit judge seat in Kane County's 16th Judicial Circuit.
Voters this week rewarded the 57-year-old Elgin man, making him the first Democrat elected to a countywide judge's seat in the circuit.
According to unofficial results, Noland tallied 82,818 votes compared to 79,195 for Republican Thomas Hartwell.
"It was democracy in action, and an opportunity to do it the old-fashioned way, knocking on doors. I really do believe that was the edge in the end," Noland said. "I really was able to move between doors a lot faster. (The Segway) is a game changer."
Hartwell, who currently serves as the Kane County Circuit Court Clerk, resigned from his post as chairman of the Kane County Republican Party to run for the at-large judge seat being vacated by the retirement of Judge David R. Akemann.
Few at the Kane County Courthouse predicted Noland, who lost in the March 2016 primary for the 8th District U.S. Congressional seat, would win this week.
"I knew it was a challenge as a Democrat to be elected countywide to any office," said Noland, who served as 22nd District state senator from 2007 to 2017. "We were very optimistic going into the race."
While the "Blue Wave" was evident in DuPage and Lake counties, Noland said it didn't carry him to victory in Kane.
He acknowledged Democrats overall performed better, but also noted direct voter contact was key.
Noland Thursday was set to meet with Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles; he also must close down his law practice before he and other judges take the oath of office on Dec. 3.
Noland said he is "prepared to listen and to learn" from his colleagues and will take any judicial assignment he receives.
In addition to their court calls, circuit judges help set policy and vote to appoint associate judges.
Noland said one of his concerns is a lack of resources to help treat defendants with mental illness; he also wants more uniformity in setting of cash bail for defendants to ensure people aren't being held at the jail if they are not a risk to the community.
"The elation (of winning) has really, I think, turned more into optimism and a sense of joy and gratitude to what amounts to a second chance," Noland said. "This is one more chance to engage in public service and be the best public servant I know how."