By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
Jo Beth Weber reigns triumphant in the race against Nicole Villani for Jefferson County Resident Judge.
The unofficial final results show Weber winning with 10,016 votes or 62.3 percent over Villani’s 6,064 or 37.71 percent.
Weber took a commanding lead early in the poll returns — with five precincts reporting, she had 63 percent of the vote.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “What more can I say?”
Weber said she was overwhelmed by the support from Jefferson County voters.
Villani did not immediately return calls requesting comment.
Weber is the founder of Jefferson County Youth Court, former president of the Jefferson County Bar Association, president of the Woman’s Hope Center also known as the Jefferson County Crisis Pregnancy Center, is on the board of trustees for Crossroads Community Hospital, a Sunday school teacher and former small group leader at Central Christian Church, a former coach for numerous YMCA and JCSA sports teams, is secretary for the Mt. Vernon Rams Baseball Booster Club, an active member and volunteer of the Mt. Vernon Rams Gridiron Club and has been a host parent for the Rotary Exchange program.
She has 20 years’ experience as an attorney and 15 years’ experience as a legal advisor for appellate court judges.
In the Illinois State Bar Association Judicial Advisory Poll, local and regional attorneys rated Weber as the highest rated candidate for this position for the upcoming election, excelling in integrity (98.41 percent; opponent 69.62 percent); impartiality (90.48 percent, opponent 58.97 percent); sensitivity (96.77 percent, opponent 74.67 percent) ; and temperament (90.48 percent, opponent 72.15 percent).
Villani said as state’s attorney, she increased the county’s conviction rate from 36 percent to 74 percent and cut down the pending caseload from 1,454 to 727.
She said she loved working as a state’s attorney, but knew she could do more as a judge. She was one of the first attorneys in the state of Illinois to be certified by the Illinois Supreme Court as lead counsel in capital litigation and trial bar, she said, a certification less than one percent of Illinois attorneys receive.
During her time as a prosecutor, she prosecuted Cecil Sutherland in the 1987 rape and murder of Amy Shultz, she said; she prosecuted and convicted several other violent crimes at jury trial, including the people vs. Charles Bruce Thomas for first degree murder in the beating death of his baby’s mother, Anissa Green; people vs. JoJulien Hicks in the Broadway Pawn & Loan armed robbery/death penalty murder trial for the shooting death of former police officer Dale Wagner; people vs. Dawn Workman in the beating death of her boyfriend’s father, Gary Kubicki; and people vs. Darryl Housely, in the gang related shooting death of Megell Strayhorn.