Fayette County residents will not see the name of Stephen G. Friedel on the ballot this November, but Shelby County residents will – for a different post than the one he holds here.
About three months after announcing that he would not seek a fourth term as Fayette County’s state’s attorney, Friedel filed to run for resident circuit judge in Shelby County.
To do so, Friedel had to take advantage of his background in law.
Up for election in November is the judicial seat currently held by Michael Kiley, who is retiring.
The candidates for that post initially included Democrat Liz Nohren and Republican Allen Bennett. But Nohren withdrew from the race following the death of her father, E.C. “Chris” Eberspacher, in February.
After Nohren withdrew from the race, Shelby County Democrats approached Friedel about running for the judgeship.
But he could not legally take Nohren’s place on the ballot as a Democratic candidate.
One state law stipulates that a political party may not fill a ballot vacancy in a judicial contest when a candidate withdraws or dies.
A second state law, one signed by Gov. Pat Quinn this spring, prohibits an individual who cast a party ballot in the primary election from being an Independent candidate in the general election.
So, once Friedel made the decision to run, he had to come up with the name for his new political party. He will be listed on the ballot as the Better Option candidate.
To get on the ballot, he was required to get 524 signatures from people living within the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which includes Shelby, Fayette, Clay, Montgomery, Christian, Marion, Clinton, Effingham and Jasper.
As a show of their support, Shelby County Democrats who had not circulated party petitions for the primary election helped Friedel obtain about 200 more signatures than required.
Friedel said that for the past four or five years, “my intention was to seek a judgeship.”
It makes sense, he said, that he does so in Shelby County.
A Granite City native, Friedel served as an assistant state’s attorney in Coles County for the last six months of 1996.
From December 1996 until November 2000, he was an assistant state’s attorney in Shelby County.
“I have many connections there,” he said. “I lived there for four years, I practiced (law) there and I used to own a house there.
“I fully intended to be running for a judgeship at some time, but this is not something that was not planned – but it fit.
“People in Shelby County approached me about running for the judgeship, because they felt it wasn’t right that there was no competition for the seat, and because they know me,” Friedel said.
As both an assistant state’s attorney and state’s attorney, Friedel has mainly had a focus on criminal law. But his education and experience has not been limited to that.
“The primary duties of a state’s attorney are to prosecute criminal activity, and to represent the county board and the county’s elected officials in civil matters,” he said.
Friedel also noted that a state’s attorney handles legal matters in a wide range of areas of criminal court.
Looking back on his time as a state's attorney in this county, Friedel said, "I am pleased with what I have done for the past 12 years, which has included standing up for victims, trying to make the community a safer place to be and shutting down the manufacture of drugs, specifically methamphetamine.
"I am proud of the fact that when the community was being torn apart by methamphetamine manufacturers, that I was helping to set a standard, that I was leading the way to send the message that that behavior would not be tolerated," he said
"During my time as state's attorney, I have been honored to work with strong law enforcement and capable judges.
"It has been a privilege to have had Judge (Gene) Schwarm presiding over the majority of jury trials that I have prosecuted, and I aspire to be as fair and as capable on the bench if I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity," Friedel said.