By Maria Maxham
To Forest Parker Kristen Lyons, who is running for a position in the 7th Judicial Subcircuit in Cook County, individual people are at the heart of every matter. "Even though I may have hundreds of cases," says Lyons, an attorney, "for that individual client, to that person, it is their one and only case." She wants to bring that mindset to the court if she is elected to the position in 2020.
Lyons, who has aspired to be a judge since she was a student at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, will run against a still undetermined number of opponents for the one seat [out of 10 total] in the 7th Subcircuit available upon the retirement of the Marianne Jackson. The Cook County 7th Judicial Subcircuit includes the towns or parts of the towns of Forest Park, Berwyn, Cicero, River Forest, and some Chicago neighborhoods, including Austin, Lawndale, Little Italy, and the Medical District. Circuit judges, as opposed to associate judges, are elected by the general public. The primary election will be on March 17, 2020 and the general election in November 2020.
Lyons has represented hundreds of workers before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC) and also has experience in civil law, as well as personal injury and family law. She has worked for both plaintiffs and the defense and estimates she has made thousands of court appearances. She loves public speaking. But this is her first "dip into the pond" when it comes to politics, she says.
Because she lives in Forest Park, she's already using local vendors and venues for her campaign, including Forest Printing on Madison Street for campaign materials and the Brown Cow and the American Legion Hall for events on Sept. 9 and Oct. 19 respectively. One of her favorite parts so far about making the decision to run has been "getting to meet neighbors." But she also likes educating people about what it means to be a judge and teaching people "about how the system works." With her current clients, too, she finds it important to explain how their individual cases fit into the workings of the bigger picture.
Although she has received encouragement from several current judges who have applauded her decision to run, this will be a "grassroots campaign." Unlike political campaigns for other positions, she says, there are rules in place for judges that prohibit criticizing opponents.
"I know I can help people in an even bigger capacity than I do now," she says of her decision to run for judge.