Will County judge ran up big lead in Democratic primary in 3rd District Appellate Court race

Judge John Anderson presides over the People v. Ferrell hearing at the Will County Annex building. Will County state’s attorneys are motioning to remove Joliet Township Trustee Karl Ferrell from the township board as they contend his past felony record disqualifies him from holding elected office. Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2022, in Joliet.

Voters across seven counties delivered an overwhelming apparent victory for Will County Circuit Court Judge John Anderson in the Democratic primary race for the 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa.

On Tuesday, Anderson defeated incumbent Joseph Hettel, a justice on the 3rd District Appellate Court, in the primary race to become the Democratic challenger to Kenton Skarin, a Republican judge for the 18th Judicial Circuit Court in DuPage County.

Anderson and Skarin will compete in the general election in November.

Unofficial vote totals Tuesday showed Anderson led Hettel by 28,243 votes across Will, Bureau, Grundy, LaSalle, DuPage, Iroquois and Kankakee counties. Anderson had 64,431 votes, while Hettel had 36,188 votes.

In a statement, Anderson said he and Hettel spoke Tuesday night and both of them “had a nice conversation.”

“He congratulated me on the win. He’s a good judge and a good man,” Anderson said. “We have been friends for a long time. We just both happened to want the same job. I am excited that Will County has an opportunity to have elected representation on the second-highest court in Illinois for the first time in history.”

Hettel, who will finish his term on the appellate court in December, said serving as an appellate justice has been the “greatest honor of my professional career.”

“I want to congratulate Judge Anderson for his hard work,” Hettel said. “Obviously, his message resonated with the Democratic voters of the district, and I wish him luck in his pursuit of the general election victory.”

Joseph Hettel, 3rd Appellate Court Justice.

The race between Hettel and Anderson was one of the few competitive judicial races on the ballot in Will County.

Joliet attorney Colette Safford defeated Will County Assistant Public Defender Phil Villasenor in the Democratic primary for the circuit court judge position to fill the vacancy of Susan O’Leary, based on Tuesday’s unofficial vote totals. Safford had 20,189 votes, while Villasenor had 9,460 votes.

Will County Judge Art Smigielski faced no opponents in the Republican primary to fill O’Leary’s vacancy.

Joliet attorney Jennifer Lynch had a 167-vote lead over Will County Associate Judge Rolonda Mitchell for the Democratic primary for the circuit court judge position to fill the vacancy of Jeffrey Allen.

As with Smigielski, Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Katie Rabenda had no opponents for the Republican primary to fill Allen’s vacancy.