Judicial Candidates Mary McClellan and Robert Wilbrandt Appear Before Nunda Township Republicans

The Republican Party of Nunda Township met last Thursday and, while no significant business was conducted, there were enough Precinct Committeemen to have a quorum.

There were also guests from outside the township.

Two judicial candidates presented their qualifications:

  • Mary McClellan
  • Robert Wilbrandt.

Mary McClellan

McClellan related that she started in the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office was was seeking the seat vacated by Judge Maureen McIntyre, whom McClellan said mentored her.

Prior to getting her law degree, who was a paralegal for five years in a large unnamed Chicago law firm.

She told of practicing a long list of type of law over fifteen years, including civil litigation, admiralty law, bench trials and jury trials.

“I’ve done a good job in the County Clerk’s Office,” she said, pointing to a reduction in employees from twenty to fourteen.

“That office was in the 17th Century.  It went to the Twentieth Century (according to my notes–she probably meant the 21st Century).”

She talked about law being “her passion,” having attended while she was a young mother.

“I’m returning to that,” she said, referring to her extensive experience.

Asked if she would allow cameras in her courtroom, she replied, “Yes, with exceptions for private matters.”

Appointed Circuit Court Judge Robert Wilbrandt, one of McClellan’s three male opponents, spoke nest.

He told of having been a judge “going on twelve years.”

That was after he headed the Public Defenders’ Office for seven years.

He went to that position after practicing law with his father and brother.  His father served as General Counsel for Marshall Field’s.

He has served as prosecutor for the Village of Fox River Grove, so  “I saw how both sides of the law worked.”

Wilbrandt helped start Turning Point.  He remembers having written the first order of protection on the back of an envelope.

Among his civil practice was divorce work.

He spoke of his Master’s Degree in History from Northwestern Universality and how that education had shaped his philosophy of the role I judge should play.

“We’re referees,” he explained, “not policy-makers.”

Continuing,Wilbrandt said, “I believe that in the text [as] originally given, not interpretation.”

The McHenry County Bar Association has awarded him its Distinguished Service Award and he serves on the Illinois Judges Association Board of Directors.

He has taught law at McHenry County College for twenty-five years and tried cases ranging from traffic to murders.

He is helping draft rules for the Illinois Supreme Court with regard to protecting the rights of all in family court.

He is also looking at pro se litigants, that is, those who represent themselves.

That involves “putting forms in English, so they can be understood by normal people.”

He told of the seeking volunteer attorneys to handle parts of cases, e.g.,child support, on a voluntary basis.

In questions from the audience, Algonquin Township Republican Chairman asked about pensions.

“There’s no way not to take it,” interjected Nunda Township Chairman Joe Gottemoller, an attorney and McHenry County Board members.

“Once you’re in, there’s no way to get out,” McClellan added.

Asked about cameras in courtrooms, Wilbrandt extolled “the benefits of transparency [as] outweigh[ing] the dangers that we can mitigate.”

He is helping draft camera rules for the 22nd Judicial District.

Asked when they would be submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court, Wilbrandt said that was up to Chief Judge Michael Sullivan.

I asked about the time judges waste scheduling cases.

“I’m glad you asked that,” Wilbrandt replied enthusiastically.

The judges are in the process of installing a computer program called “Smart Bench.”

Implementation started with electronic filling.

Eventually, attorneys will be told to go to a computer screen and figure out themselves when the next court date should be.

Or as Wilbrandt envisions the process:

“You guys figure it out.”

The other two candidates for the countywide seat at Ray Flavin and Demetri Tsilimigras.


Judicial Candidates Mary McClellan and Robert Wilbrandt Appear Before Nunda Township Republicans — 30 Comments

  1. I thought that Mary McClellan was the Consigliere to the Miller Crime Family.

  2. Hands down, Wilbrandt is the best choice for this position out of all of the candiates.

  3. If you check the ARDC records, she has not been a lawyer for 15 years, as she claims, and since she has not practiced law while the clerk, she really only has 12 years experience as a lawyer, the same amount of time Wilbrandt has been a judge.

    Her candidacy is a very bad joke.

  4. This is nauseating. Neither of these two belongs on the bench. She has no experience. He has no character.

    Ask him what a BGHON Order of Protection is. Ask him about his claimed army service or army pension. Ask him about teaching history or ROTC at UW Madison.

  5. Re: ““That office was in the 17th Century. It went to the Twentieth Century”

    Translation: That office had a sound reputation and was trusted by the public.

    It went from that to a reputation for running elections poorly; hiring a husband who gets accused of harassment; presenting invoices for illegal payment; terminating the employment of the Auditor’s sister after the auditor refused to honor an illegal expense payment etc.

    The County went from a Clerk who was adored by the public, to a Clerk who was distrusted by the public but boy does this Clerk have high self esteem!

    Now she wants to be a judge even after being sanctioned by the Bar?

    Its a shame the three guys running against her could not do what it appears Pam Althoff and her buddies did in County Board D-5: Get one female to drop out to enhance the odds of removing the only conservative on the Board from that District!

    Welcome to Franks’ Madiganized County!

  6. Martin: You imply that McCellan has character. I’d like to hear from McCellan’s son about her passion to ignore him and his needs when the three lived together.

  7. On merit alone, Wilbrandt deserves to be elected, he is the class of this field, he grew up in Crystal Lake in a very respected family.

    Well known for his teaching at MCC and involvement in the Woodstock Opera House and Turning Point. Very smart and soft spoken.

  8. Don’t confuse me with supporting McClellan.

    I’ve read the federal court order.

    I did not mean to imply any endorsement of her character.

  9. McClellan is correct in stating “Once you’re in it, you can’t get out.” (Note: like “Martin” above, don’t confuse that for an endorsement.)

    However, there is a distinction between the IMRF system (like public employees use, which is usually mandatory) and the Judge’s Retirement System (which Wilbrandt voluntarily uses).

    Judge Wilbrandt cannot refuse the Judge’s pension because he is already enrolled. It is too late for him.

    Demetri Tsilimigras is correct in that he can deny enrollment and refuse the Judge’s Retirement System (JRS) pension beginning day one.

    He could not refuse the modest & mandated IMRF as Assistant State’s Attorney, but he can and will refuse the exceedingly generous JRS pension which can and have exceeded $180,000/year here in McHenry County.

    Just visit http://www.taxpayersunitedofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/JRS-2016-Embargoed-data.pdf to get a glimpse of a typical Judge’s pension to truly appreciate the sacrifice Demetri Tsilimigras offers.

  10. The judicial pensions were capped beginning around 2009, so that judges elected or appointed after that are in a lower tier.

    I do not have time to look it up, but I think your numbers are too high.

    Your point that the judicial pension would still be higher than the SA pension is correct, though.

    I like the image in my mind of a creaky old man going to his mailbox once a month, finding his unwanted pension check, muttering curses he a totters back to his porch, then setting fire to it as he lights his pipe.

  11. You’re correct, Martin.

    I should have omitted the “can” and left it at “have exceeded $180,000/yr,” due to the more recent cap.

    Thank you for the correction, although technically there is at least one instance of a grandfathered $180k+ pension still being paid and several exceeding $150K/yr currently.

  12. Wilbrandt said he ‘just signed a bunch of papers they shoved in front of me so now I can’t opt out”






    ?Interesting the NWHerald also mentioned a rumor of him possibly saying he served when he has not.

    McClellan out and out lied.

    She CAN definitely opt out of the Judicial pension.

    Lying or stupid –


    Speaking of military service, heard her husband was working at the polls and spit on the floor in front of one of our Veterans when the guy told him he served in Nam.

    We didn’t need the Bar Association poll to tell us that she’s not worthy.

    But they gave her a 10% out of 100%. That’s the most pitiful thing I’ve ever seen!

  13. With 14 credit years in an IMRF tier 1 pension[1], if he retires at 60 his pension will be about 23.3% of his final earnings rate[2]. Demetri made $85,830.39 in 2016-2017. So, if he were to leave an IMRF-qualifying job after the election, his annual pension benefit would be $20,031.

    He also teaches part time at MCC, possibly qualifying him for a SURS pension. I’m not going to take the time to estimate that pension, but let’s assume it’s minimal.

    Using current numbers, a Tier 2 pension caps out at 60% of the average salary of the judge’s final eight years in office. Circuit Court judges currently make $191,609.21, so if Demetri took a Tier 2 pension, served a full 20 years, and retired after 67, his annual retirement benefit would be $114,965.53.

    Demetri promising to not take a pension is not a hollow gesture. That said, do you really want pick judges based upon which one is cheapest?

    [1]http://www.demetri4judge.com/about-1.html (indicating he worked 5 years in private practice before becoming a government attorney) and https://www.iardc.org/ldetail.asp?id=423626336 (licensed in May 1999).


  14. Rachael Lawrence:

    You note that “Judge Wilbrandt cannot refuse the Judge’s pension because he is already enrolled. It is too late for him.”

    Suppose Demetri wins. Then Wilbrandt would start collecting his retirement, and the taxpayers would be on the hook for Demetri’s regular salary and Wilbrandt’s retirement payout.

    As someone who believes in small government and abhors government largesse, shouldn’t you be rooting for Wilbrandt to win and stay on the bench until death, eliminating the double payout???

  15. Although there are too many old white establishment cronies that don’t want a swarthy Mediterranean in office, Demetri is the only honorable Candidate in this race.

    VOTE DEMETRI, to bring Honor to McHenry County Court System.

  16. McClellan lies about stuff any op research can prove. What an idiot!

  17. Don’t worry Demetri won’t have to “reject” the judge pension.

  18. Publius: No. Since Judge Wilbrandt is grandfathered into the un-capped higher tier, his pension is likely to rival or even exceed the $180,000/yr I mentioned above, with 3% compounded yearly increases.

    Also, I’m not supporting and voting for the “cheapest” judge. I’m voting for the one with the most experience, ethics, and highest moral character in my opinion. The fact that his principles dictate refusing an under-funded pension is just the icing on the cake.

  19. Correction: rather than “un-capped,” it should state the “80%-capped higher tier” My apologies.

  20. Justin, you’re well informed.

    How can we let the voters know this stuff?

    She has all the advantages running the election doesn’t she,


  21. Rachael Lawrence:

    You either missed the point or dodged it.

    Electing Demetri will cause taxpayers to have to pay his salary and Wilbrandt’s pension.

    Retaining Wilbrandt will put off his pension being paid out.

    Retaining Wilbrandt will save taxpayers immediate money.

    That’s why Demetri’s whole campaign is silly.

  22. Both of these people lied. You can refuse the pension. So now I’m left with Flavin or Demetri.
    Demetri seems very honorable and kind. Ray is a character. Might make an entertaining TV judge tho.

  23. Publius:
    …so would your proposal then just be voting for the “cheaper” judge as was criticized before?
    That’s not how I vote, but you’re free to do as you wish.

  24. No. The only point that I’m making is that Demetri’s “I won’t take a judge’s pension” shtick is silly because his election would result in taxpayers paying more.

  25. Heinrich, you must be a pig at the trough to make such a remark!

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