I would like to publicly congratulate Ann Collins on her election as the Democratic judicial candidate for the 11th subcircuit. [Collins defeats 10 to win in the 11th, News, Feb. 10] She is an excellent attorney, a nice person and an Oak Park neighbor. She and I were associates in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender for 20 years; she worked various positions, including the homicide task force, while I was assigned other duties in the appeals division and the legal resource division.

Ann has the reputation of being a careful practitioner of the law, dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of the accused, and a fierce and thorough court-room litigator. Over the nearly 30 years she has devoted to practicing criminal-defense advocacy, she has earned the respect of her partners and her opponents. Her work has benefited countless individual clients, and raised the level of practice of all those who worked with her.

We should all recognize the significant contribution her lifetime of work has made to the courts of Cook County and the state of Illinois. The newspapers were right to endorse her, and her friends and neighbors were right to support her. The general public did not make a mistake in electing her. There is no doubt she will make a fine judge.

I would also like to thank all the other candidates and their families, friends and supporters who participated in the election. It takes a lot of daring, guts and courage to offer yourselves to the public as candidates. It costs a lot of time. It costs a lot of money. If it is done right, it should not cost anyone any friends.

While it is clear that Ann Collins got more votes than the other candidates, it should not be said that the efforts by the other candidates were misguided, their time and money wasted, that they were losers, or that it was a mistake to support them. Everyone who voted at all, for any of the candidates, did the right thing.

There were any number of candidates who were the best choice for a number of reasons. Each candidate had different legitimate qualities to offer, whether it was their sober and thoughtful personality, dynamic and youthful energy, wisdom from life experience, demonstrated legal expertise or other attributes. No one who supported a particular candidate should feel that they made a mistake.

Now that the lawn signs have been removed and the dust has settled, Ann Collins can take a well-earned rest, savor her victory and prepare for her new position. I warmly welcome her to the judicial ranks. And I would like to, again, express my respect for the vigorous (but fair) competition from my fellow candidates and Oak Park neighbors. My true gratitude goes to my family, friends and hard-working, generous supporters. Thank you.

Judge Pamela Leeming is an Oak Park resident who ran unsuccessfully in the Feb. 3 Democratic primary for judge in Cook County’s 11th judicial subcircuit.

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