Six years after falling short in his bid to become a Cook County judge, Riverside resident John Allegretti, on March 18, won election to a seat in the Fourth Judicial Subcircuit, defeating fellow Riverside resident Martin Reggi by a comfortable margin in the Democratic primary.
Allegretti collected 59 percent of the vote in the subcircuit, which extends from Leyden Township in the north to Palos and Worth townships in the south. Since there was no Republican candidate in the primary, Allegretti has already punched his ticket to a seat on the bench in Cook County.
He fills the vacancy created when Judge Mary A. Mulhern retired last year.
“I’m surprised [Reggi] got 40 percent when you look at the amount of effort we put into it, 24/7,” said Allegretti of his campaign. “I’ve worked on this campaign non-stop since September.”
Reggi characterized the race as one pitting a neophyte campaigner against a seasoned veteran. Allegretti has run for elective office at least four times in the past.
“We had an uphill battle from the get-go,” said Reggi. “With some more work on my part and more of an organization in terms of a formal committee. … It would have been really close or I would have won.”
Allegretti won every township in the subcircuit. The closest margin of victory over Reggi was in Riverside Township, where the count was 400 votes to 372. Reggi won three of the four Riverside Township precincts in North Riverside and he also won the lone Proviso Township precinct in North Riverside.
Reggi also did well in Riverside north of Herrick Road in Riverside, while Allegretti won handily south of the railroad tracks.
If 2008’s loss taught Allegretti anything, it was to campaign even harder. His name in the Riverside area was ubiquitous — fire engine hauling a huge Allegretti sign was a common sight in the area. Even after the truck was damaged in an accident in Lyons in February, it could still be seen parked around town.
According to state campaign committee filings, Allegretti spent more than $16,500 through the end of December 2013 on his campaign and had collected almost $26,000. Reggi’s fundraising for his campaign didn’t come close.
Campaign filings show Reggi had collected a little less than $3,000 by the end of 2013 and had spent less than $2,000. Just prior to the election, Reggi received at least another $3,000 in donations.
“I guess we had him pretty worried if he’s been raising that kind of money,” said Reggi, who also had to fight off a nominating petition challenge filed by Allegretti, charging that hundreds of the signatures on Reggi’s petitions were fraudulent. Reggi’s candidacy survived, but Allegretti pointed to the challenge as an example of his dedication to fighting for what’s right.
“I purposed the objection because I don’t think the right thing was done,” Allegretti said. “Becoming a judge is an extension of that. It allows me to provide another level of public service.”
Reggi said the petition challenge threw a wrench in his campaign and prevented him from reaching out sooner to local mayors for endorsements.
Allegretti will resign his post as general counsel to the Cook County treasurer when he ascends to the bench after the general election in November, though he could be appointed to the position by the Illinois Supreme Court prior to that.
He’ll start where all rookie judges in Cook County start — in traffic court.
“I’m certainly not getting a corner office, and I’ve had some nice corner offices in my career,” said Allegretti. “I’ve been successful in both public and private practice, but this is where I can get satisfaction rather than just bringing home a paycheck. I’ll be able to do much more.”
Also on March 18, Allegretti won the race for Riverside Township Democratic committeeman, a job he held from 2010 until early 2014, when he resigned during his run for judge.
“I resigned out of an abundance of caution,” said Allegretti.
But when votes are certified later this spring, he will again become committeeman, a position he cannot hold as a judge. Allegretti said he will resign the post, which will then be filled by the Democratic Central Committee.