PAXTON — Attorney Ross Sorensen has withdrawn his candidacy for the Ford County circuit judge's post in the March 18 Republican primary election.
The Illinois State Board of Elections' website shows Sorensen withdrew from the race at 11:25 a.m. Tuesday.
His decision leaves Ford County State's Attorney Matt Fitton of Paxton and attorney Ellen Lee of Paxton as the only remaining candidates seeking to fill the seat vacated Dec. 31 by the resignation of Judge Steve Pacey. A lottery determined that Lee will appear first on the ballot, followed by Fitton.
"After serious consideration and discussion with my family, we've decided now is not the right time to pursue a race for circuit judge," the 30-year-old Sorensen, a rural Buckley resident, said in a statement Thursday. "We're thankful for the support of more than 1,000 Ford County residents who helped place us on the ballot in just 12 days. I pledge to continue to work to make our county, and judicial system, a better place."
Sorensen is an associate attorney for the Paxton law firm Martensen, Niemann & Associates and has also served since April as the attorney representing the city of Paxton and the Paxton Park District. He was the first among the three candidates to announce his intentions to replace Pacey, whom he called a mentor to him.
The winner of the primary will appear on the November general election ballot. The new judge would then take office Dec. 1, although court officials said the Illinois Supreme Court could possibly appoint the winner of the primary to the vacant seat earlier.
Until a permanent replacement is determined, four judges in the 11th Judicial Circuit have been assigned to fill in for Pacey on a temporary basis: Judge Paul G. Lawrence of Bloomington, resident Judge Jennifer Hartmann-Bauknecht of Pontiac, Associate Judge Mark A. Fellheimer of Pontiac and resident Judge Kevin P. Fitzgerald of Bloomington.
Fitton and Lee have been invited to participate in a "Meet the Candidates" event sponsored by the Ford County Republican Central Committee and the Ford County Republican Women. The event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 25, at the Paxton Civic Center, 601 S. Fall St., Paxton. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.