State Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford) stood before the Winnebago County Board Oct. 12 to push for the appointment of a black associate judge in the 17th Circuit Court. While only judges of the circuit court can make such an appointment, Jefferson urged the board to use its influence to remedy what he called an unfulfilled promise.
Some time ago, prior to the 1 percent sales tax referendum, Paul Logli visited the black community, Jefferson explained, to say that if, in fact, we would get behind this 1 percent sales tax for the jail, that he would guarantee that he could help us to get an African-American judge appointed.
Winnebago County States Attorney Paul Logli, who was not at the meeting, said he is in favor of the appointment of a black judge. I have worked in support of a particular candidate who is well qualified for the bench, and I will continue to support him as allowed by current procedural rules. Logli said he shares in Jeffersons disappointment it hasnt happened yet.
Jefferson referred to the high number of blacks in the jail and said its time to have black representation in the circuit court. Jefferson is a known supporter of Democrat circuit judge candidate Gwyn Gulley. However, if Gulley, whos African-American, is defeated by Republican Ed Prochaska in the Nov. 7 election, a spot will be open for an associate judge.
If you are African-American and you come before an African-American judge, maybe someday you would aspire to be like that individual who you can relate to, Jefferson added. You cant use the excuse anymore that there arent any qualified candidates.
Democratic Central Committeeman John Nelson also went before the county board to echo Jeffersons sentiments.
Many years ago, in 1989, Zeke Giorgi said Rockford isnt ready for a black mayor, and he was wrong, Nelson said. It seems as if theres a feeling that Rockford isnt ready for an African-American judge, and thats wrong.
Nelson told the board the next appointed judge should be black, even if that candidate happens to be a Republican.
Jefferson agreed the appointment is long overdue. Im hoping the county board can use their influence with the judicial system to say that its time, he said.
From the Oct. 18-24, 2006, issue