Two Italian-American lawyers from Riverside who both worship at St. Mary’s Church are facing off in a race for judge in the March 18 Democratic primary. That is, if one doesn’t get knocked off the ballot first.
John Allegretti and Martin Reggi are the only two candidates in the primary for the Democratic nomination to fill the vacancy of Judge Mary Mulhern in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The district stretches in the western suburbs from Leyden Township on the north to Palos Township in the south.
Allegretti’s wife, Shannon, has filed an objection to Reggi’s nominating petitions, claiming, among other things, that two of Reggi’s children and Reggi’s wife did not sign the petition pages that they claimed to circulate.
The objection also claims that the notary public who certified the signatures did not sign petition pages and that the notary’s signature is not genuine.
Reggi, the father of seven, said that he’s personally offended by the allegations and says that Allegretti is challenging his family’s integrity.
“That’s not going to be a problem,” Reggi said of the petition challenge, which has yet to be heard by the Board of Elections. “It’s insulting, but this is part of the politics.”
Reggi’s son, Martin Reggi Jr., is one of the petition circulators being challenged. Reggi Jr., who is the deputy finance director of the Quinn for Governor campaign, is also serving as the unofficial campaign manager of his father’s judicial campaign.
“We are confident in the number and quality of our petitions,” Reggi Jr. said in an email. “I am incredibly proud of the hard work my family put in over such a short time frame to gain the necessary signatures.”
Allegretti said that he didn’t want to comment on his wife’s petition challenge, because the matter is pending before the Board of Elections.
“All I can say is that the objection speaks for itself,” he said.
Allegretti, 48, is also running for re-election as the committeeman of the Riverside Township Democratic Party. He is the chief counsel for the Cook County Treasurer’s Office and has previously been a chief counsel to the Cook County Assessor and a hearing officer for Cook County property tax appeals.
Earlier in his career, Allegretti worked in private practice and as an assistant Cook County state’s attorney.
Allegretti says that he views running for judge as the logical extension of a career based on community service. It’s his second race for judge. In the 2008 Democratic primary, Allegretti finished last in a five-person race in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit.
In 2005, Allegretti ran for the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education and missed being elected by just 13 votes.
Allegretti was elected Riverside Township Democratic committeeman in 2010. If he is elected a judge in November, Allegretti says that he would resign that party post.
“If elected as judge, of course, I would give up the committeeman post,” Allegretti said.
The winner of the Democratic nomination for judge would be heavily favored to win in the November general election.
Allegretti’s opponent for committeeman, Sylvester Hartigan of North Riverside, claims Allegretti is violating Illinois’ Code of Judicial Conduct by running for judge while serving as Democratic committeeman.
Hartigan, who has run twice unsuccessfully for mayor of North Riverside, has challenged Allegretti’s nominating petitions for the committeeman post, claiming that Allegretti is in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that neither judges nor judicial candidates can “act as a leader or hold an office in a political organization.”
However, Allegretti says that he has done nothing wrong and will be vindicated by the election board.
“Just because an allegation is made by Mr. Hartigan doesn’t mean it has merit,” Allegretti said. “I am absolutely confident that we are in compliance with all the elections laws.”
Reggi, 61, is a solo practitioner with an office in Berwyn. He has a general law practice and handles a wide range of cases, which he says prepares him well for being a judge. Early in his career, Reggi worked for five years as an assistant Cook County state’s attorney.
“I have a lot of ideas to lend to the bench, because I practice every day in these courts,” Reggi said.
North Riverside Mayor Hugh Hermanek, who is also an attorney, is supporting Reggi in the race.
“He does criminal defense like I do, and I think very highly of him,” Hermanek said. “He’s highly qualified and I think he would be a good judge.”
Allegretti, who grew up in the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago as one of nine children, seems to have the edge in financial resources. He has received two four-figure campaign contributions: a $5,000 donation from former Chicago 36th Ward Ald. William J.P. “Bill” Banks and a $1,000 contribution from the Vrdoloyak Law Group.
Reggi reported raising $1,350 in the most recent reporting period with a number of three figure contributions from fellow lawyers and has about $3,500 in his campaign coffers.