Write-in votes critical to elect ‘best’ circuit judges in June 28 primary


Edwardsville IL – Three union-backed candidates for circuit judge in Illinois’ 3rd Circuit are in need of primary votes on June 28 from Madison County Democrats – especially two of them who were forced by county officials to run as write-in candidates

Ebony Huddleston, John Barry Julian and Associate Judge Ryan Jumper are running for circuit judge seats in the 3rd Circuit as Democrats, but Huddleston and Julian were removed from the ballot by the Republican-controlled Madison County Electoral Board in April over questions regarding the dates on which their petition signatures were gathered.

The two must now run as write-in candidates and receive at least as many votes as were required on the petitions they circulated – 334 each.

Julian, of Edwardsville, is a retired associate judge and founding partner in Gori Julian and Associates. Huddleston is an Alton attorney. Jumper is a sitting associate judge.

Randy Harris, chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party and director of the national Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, said he believes this year’s slate has three of the best judicial candidates the party has ever had, and he called on all union members to get out next Tuesday and vote, especially since Huddleston and Julian have to be written in on the ballot to make it to the November election.

Here’s how to vote for a write-in candidate on the primary ballot:

  • Fill in the circle next to the line denoted “write-in.”
  • Write the name of the candidate on the space.
  • For the vacancy of Judge David W. Dugan, write in John Barry Julian.
  • For the vacancy of Judge Richard Tognarelli, write in Ebony Huddleston.
  • For the vacancy of Judge William Mudge, Ryan Jumper is already on the ballot.

The election takes place on Tuesday, June 28, although early voting has begun at several locations listed on the county clerk’s website, with some locations available through June 25. In addition, voting by mail may still be available. Go to MadisonVotes.com for details. Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day next Tuesday, which is now a state holiday in Illinois.

Each candidate spoke at a gathering sponsored by the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor and Ironworkers Local 392 on June 1, attended by fellow Democrats and Labor leaders.

 Huddleston said she is the daughter of a coal miner and a schoolteacher and that she understands the value of labor. “I look young, but I have the experience,” she said. A native of Alton, she has a law practice in Alton.

Huddleston was valedictorian at Alton High School before attending Xavier University in Louisiana and Ohio Northern University Petit College of Law. During law school, Huddleston clerked for a federal judge and a Godfrey law firm and worked with Arthur Andersen LLP in St. Louis for four years. She has taught at Lewis & Clark Community College as well as operating her own firm, which has offices in Alton and Godfrey.

“Madison County has good people, and we need to make sure those good people get represented,” she said. “I can do that on the bench.”

If elected, Huddleston and Jumper would be the first Black circuit judges in Madison County in the 50 years since the appointment of Clayton Williams, the first Black judge in the county.

But Jumper said he is not running to make history.

“Although my candidacy is historic, I’m not running just to be the first Black anything,” he said. “I’m running because the 3rd Circuit needs good, smart people who care about and invest in this county to join its leadership.”

Jumper has served as associate judge since 2018. A 1996 graduate of Edwardsville High School, he attended Illinois Wesleyan University and Southern Illinois University School of Law. His father was a 50-year lineman for IBEW 309, his mother was a nurse and his brother is a Glen Carbon police department commissioner.

Barry Julian attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Washington University School of Dental Medicine and worked many years as a dentist before he changed careers, attending St. Louis University School of Law and helping to found the Gori Law Firm. The firm has focused on asbestos litigation, as well as catastrophic injury and occupational disease injury matters.

Retired in 2015, Julian was appointed associate judge in 2019 and is now seeking election as circuit judge.

Julian said his philosophy as a judge comes down to listening. “You work for the people when you sit on that bench,” he said. “Be polite. Listen to them. Follow the law.”

Other speakers at the event on June 1 included State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), State Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), and Joe Silkwood of East Alton, who is running for state representative in the 111th District.


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