David Navarro

Two Riverside residents were victorious in judicial elections in the March 20 Democratic primary election, while two other Riversiders and a public defender from Brookfield lost their judicial races.

In the Cook County 4th Subcircuit race, Judge David Navarro, who was appointed the bench last year, defeated Countryside lawyer Caroline Jamieson Golden, who had the party’s endorsement.

Navarro won with nearly 56 percent of the vote.

Kathryn Maloney Vahey, a public defender from Riverside, is on her way to becoming a judge.

Vahey was one of only two judicial candidates running countywide to win despite not being slated by the Cook County Democratic Party. She has no Republican opponent in the fall.

Vahey defeated Judge Oran F. Whiting and prosecutor John Maher, receiving 44 percent of the vote.

Whiting had the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party and the Chicago Tribune although the Tribune also praised Vahey.

Last week, Vahey was still absorbing her victory.

“I’m thrilled and I’m still kind of taking it in,” Vahey said. “I’m excited, but it’s so new that I’m trying to adjust to the reality of it.”

Jerry Barrido, a public defender from Brookfield, finished a distant second in his countywide race, losing to Judge Clare Joyce Quish.

Quish won nearly 65 percent of the vote, while Barrido received just 22 percent and Patrick John got 13 percent.

Barrido had teamed up with Vahey and another countywide primary winner, Kathleen Lanahan, but he could not overcome a challenger who was endorsed by both the Cook County Democratic Party and the Chicago Tribune.

In the closest race involving local candidates, Elizabeth Ciaccia-Lezza, a sex crimes prosecutor from Westchester, edged Riverside resident Judge John Andrew O’Meara by 770 votes in a four-way race.

 O’Meara had been appointed to the 4th Judicial Subcircuit of Cook County in 2016. Ciaccia-Lezza received 13,485 votes, 34.89 percent of the total, to O’Meara’s 12,715 votes, 32.9 percent.

Riverside resident Martin Reggi finished third in the race, with 17.71 percent of the vote. It was his second attempt to become a judge. Danny Collins from La Grange received 14.4 percent. Reggi was the endorsed candidate of the Democratic township committeeman of the district.

The 4th Subcircuit runs from Worth in the south to Franklin Park. Ciaccia-Lezza faces no Republican opponent in the November general election.

Ciaccia-Lezza was endorsed by 12 west suburban mayors, including Hubert Hermanek Jr. of North Riverside, and she was the only women in the four-candidate field.

“I think being a woman is an advantage of sorts when going up against three men,” O’Meara said. “That is a factor in this race.”

Having two candidates from Riverside in the same race hurt both O’Meara and Reggi. In Riverside Township, which includes Riverside, part of North Riverside, and the Hollywood neighborhood of Brookfield, O’Meara and Reggi split most of the vote, with O’Meara winning 37 percent to 35.5 percent for Reggi.

“Mr. Reggi and I were, to a certain extent, going after the same votes here in Riverside, and that probably did not work to my benefit in this race,” O’Meara said.

O’Meara will remain a judge at least until December. O’Meara could remain on the bench past December if he is appointed to be an associate judge. There are currently 17 vacancies for associate judges in Cook County.