PAXTON — Ford County State's Attorney Matt Fitton on Thursday became the third attorney to announce candidacy for the to-be-vacated circuit judge's post in Ford County.
Announcing their candidacy earlier this week were attorneys Ross Sorensen of rural Loda and Ellen Lee of Paxton, the wife of former Ford County state's attorney Tony Lee.
A potential fourth candidate — attorney Lance Camp of Watseka — said Friday he would not enter the race. Camp earlier had said he would decide by next week.
All three candidates so far are Republicans. They plan to run in a special primary election to be held March 18 to determine a replacement for Ford County Circuit Judge Stephen R. Pacey, who submitted his resignation Monday from the bench, effective Dec. 31, 2013.
To be listed on the primary ballot, each needs to acquire the signatures of 500 registered voters in Ford County and file a petition with those signatures between Dec. 16-23.
The winner of the primary would appear on the November general election ballot. The new judge would take office Dec. 1, 2014, although court officials said the Illinois Supreme Court could appoint the winner of the primary to the vacant seat earlier.
Fitton, 52, of Paxton, said he decided to seek the bench because he believes he is qualified, noting he has experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney in both criminal and civil law.
"Based on my experience, I believe I have the integrity to be a judge," Fitton said. "As an attorney who has practiced criminal law and been on both sides, both as a prosecutor and doing defense work, I believe I have a good perspective on what the judge should do."
Fitton has lived in Paxton for more than 20 years and is a lifelong resident of Central Illinois. His wife, Cara, is a special education teacher for the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district. They have three sons. He and his wife are past members of the Illinois Adoptive/Foster Parent Group and were foster parents for a number of years. He belongs to numerous civic organizations and is a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Paxton.