The 2022 Primary Election is just around the corner — June 28 this year, later than in past years due to the delay in the census data. Early voting has already begun, and you’re hearing plenty from candidates on television, your streaming services, and in your mailbox.

I hope to cut through the clutter a bit and call your attention to two local candidates running for an important but oft-overlooked office — Cook County Circuit Court judge.

Tom Nowinski, of Oak Park, is running for a countywide judicial position. Tom is a longtime neighbor, local volunteer in his church, and coaches Oak Park youth sports. In his almost 20 years as an attorney, he has served our community as an assistant state’s attorney, labor counsel for multiple elected officials in Cook County, and chief of staff to the clerk of the Circuit Court. He’s immensely qualified to serve on the bench.

State Senate President Don Harmon with judicial candidates Chris Taliaferro, left, and Tom Nowinski. (Provided)

Chris Taliaferro, of Galewood, is running for judge in the 11th Subcircuit — a portion of Cook County that includes all of Oak Park, Galewood, some of Austin, and several neighboring suburbs and city neighborhoods. Chris is a military vet and former police officer, who represents Galewood and Austin in the City Council. He’s been a great neighbor.

As chair of the Cook County Democratic Party Judicial Slating Committee, I’m particularly proud of our recent record of supporting well-qualified judges who reflect the diversity of the entire county. Tom Nowinski joins 11 other endorsed Democratic candidates running countywide and all have been found qualified by all of the bar associations. You can find more information about all the candidates at https://www.cookcountydems.com/2022-candidates.

The judicial subcircuits were created almost 30 years ago by the General Assembly to foster diversity on the bench and to encourage unconventional candidates. While the bar associations often get it right — and they certainly did in evaluating our countywide candidates — they can sometimes be too rigid in evaluating non-traditional candidates. Chris Taliaferro has balanced a lifetime of public service with a significant family law practice. While family law lawyers may be in court less often than state’s attorneys, they are better prepared to serve as judge in the family and domestic law courts. I’m confident that Chris Taliaferro will be an excellent judge.

No matter who you choose to support, please vote. Early voting is open at Oak Park Village Hall, and again, Election Day this year is Tuesday, June 28.

Don Harmon of Oak Park is the Illinois Senate president.

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