DuPage County judge bows out of race for circuit court seat

  • Kavita Athanikar, shown here receiving a standing ovation from Naperville officials in 2018, has ended her campaign for a judicial post in DuPage County. The Republican cited a health issue for dropping out of the race.

    Kavita Athanikar, shown here receiving a standing ovation from Naperville officials in 2018, has ended her campaign for a judicial post in DuPage County. The Republican cited a health issue for dropping out of the race. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 9/1/2022 7:36 PM

A DuPage County judge and former Naperville city prosecutor elevated to the circuit court earlier this year has ended her bid to retain her appointed seat.

Republican nominee Kavita Athanikar has bowed out of the judicial race with a little over two months until the November election. Her exit virtually ensures her Democratic opponent, attorney Mia McPherson, will ascend to the court.

 

"On the advice of medical professionals, I made the difficult decision to withdraw to pursue treatment for a recently diagnosed issue," Athanikar said in a statement.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Athanikar to fill a vacant 18th Judicial Circuit spot left by the retirement of DuPage Judge Robert Kleeman in March. Athanikar had been an associate judge in DuPage since 2018. Before that, she was a deputy city attorney in Naperville.

"As a judge, I have focused on the law and the pursuit of justice in each matter before me," Athanikar said. "This campaign exposed me to an entirely different and exciting part of our democracy. The support I received from neighbors, friends, fellow jurists, and the community was humbling. I thank you for the opportunity to serve and look forward to the future when I can contribute again."

Though never a judge, her now-former rival, McPherson, has been campaigning on her 20 years of legal experience.

Both candidates received a "recommended" rating from the Illinois State Bar Association. In a joint poll with the DuPage County Bar Association, more than 85% of the 213 attorneys who were surveyed said Athanikar met the requirements of the office. More than 79% said the same of McPherson. Both earned strong marks in areas of integrity and sensitivity.

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Athanikar has presided over the county's drug court.

McPherson began her career as a public defender in DuPage. She started her own practice in 2009.

Judge Michael Reidy, a Republican, is running against Democratic challenger Jill Otte for the other circuit court seat up for election on the November ballot.

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