ShawnTe Raines-Welch and Nicholas Kantas are on their way to the bench. They both won their respective Democratic primaries for two vacancies in in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit on June 28 — and they’ll face no Republican opponents in the November general election.
Raines-Welch, who is married to Emanuel “Chris” Welch, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, won a four-way race in the Democratic primary with 34.89 percent of the vote with all but three precincts reporting.
Riverside resident Chloe Pedersen, who is the niece of Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, finished second with 27.17 percent of the vote, 1,807 votes behind Raines-Welch, according to unofficial totals posted by the Cook County Clerk on June 29.
Former Brookfield resident Jerry Barrido, a public defender, finished third with 23.61 percent of the vote. Patrick Campanelli finished fourth with 14.33 percent of the vote.
The 4th Judicial Subcircuit includes all of Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside and stretches from Palos Township on the south to Leyden Township on the north.
Raines-Welch vastly outspent her opponents during the campaign. Her campaign raised more than $540,000, including contributions of $50,000 or $25,000 from the members of Chris Welch’s House leadership team, according to campaign finance disclosures reported on the Illinois Sunshine website.
Pedersen raised about $43,000 while Barrido raised a little more than $42,000, most of which came from Barrido himself.
Raines-Welch’s large financial advantage paid for a barrage of direct mail that her campaign sent to likely voters throughout the west suburban subcircuit. Some local households reported as many as three or four direct mail pieces a week from Welch’s campaign in the final weeks of the campaign. Name recognition is often key in judicial elections.
“She bought this election,” said Riverside resident Amy Jacksic, who voted for Pedersen.
But Raines-Welch didn’t rely entirely on advertising. Like other candidates, she rang doorbells and knocked on doors. That door-to-door campaigning won her the vote of Brookfield resident Jessica Thuente, who said she was impressed by Raines-Welch’s strong pro-abortion rights views.
Raines-Welch is a partner in the law firm Ancel Glink where she practices municipal law.
Kantas, a longtime prosecutor who is a supervisor in the juvenile division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, defeated fellow assistant state’s attorney Amanda Moira Pillsbury in a two-person race for the other vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit. With all but three precincts reporting, Kantas had 12,652 votes (54.9 percent) to 10,393 (45.1 percent) for Pillsbury.
Raines-Welch and Kantas teamed up during the campaign. At polling places, voters were handed glossy palm cards featuring photos of the two. Both also benefited from the support of the Lyons Township Democratic Organization, which is led by state Sen. Steve Landek.
Aguilar wins Dem race for Cook County Board
In another Democratic primary race, incumbent Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar (D-Cicero), who was appointed to service the 16th District in 2020, replacing Jeffrey Tobolski, who resigned before pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge, defeated Leticia “Letty” Garcia of Berwyn.
With all but one precinct reporting, Aguilar had 8,615 votes (54.17 percent) to 7,289 votes (45.83 percent) for Garcia.
In the general election, Aguilar will face the Republican nominee, Brookfield resident Kimberly Jagielski, a Cook County probation officer.