Since 1997, Jill Rose Quinn has had her own private law practice working on family and criminal law, LGBTQ issues, financial matters and trusts and estates among other legal services. She is the first ever out transgender judicial candidate in Illinois history and is currently running for a Cook County Circuit Court vacancy in the March 17 Democratic primary.
Quinn is also a member of the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, National LGBT Bar Association and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois.
Windy City Times: What made you want run again for Cook County judge? How did your 2018 campaign go and have you made any strategy changes for this race?
Jill Rose Quinn: There is still not a transgender judge in the state of Illinois. On the bench, I want to be a voice of everyone in the county and especially those who consider themselves outsiders.
I ran two years ago for the 10th Cook County subcircuit and [those judges] are just as powerful as a circuit court judge. The difference is they have to please fewer people in order to get elected. I still live in the 10th subcircuit and when I was looking for support to run this time there was a feeling among the people I spoke to that my run would play much better on a county-wide basis so that is why I decided to run for this judicial seat.
This race is like the second time you do anything. You have experience and know how to do things better. I started earlier and that included talking to people within the Cook County Democratic Party. I figured out what I had to do and when it had to get done earlier in the process including gathering support, fundraising tactics and the training I needed to run a better campaign.
WCT: Who is running against you in the Democratic primary?
JRQ: James Samuel Worley and Wendelin Deloach.
WCT: How are you balancing your law practice with campaigning this time around?
JRQ: I have eliminated the need for free time and am essentially working two full-time jobs from early in the morning to the evening hours. I am also taking less complicated cases. I go to events where voters will show up like Chamber of Commerce meetings, political fundraisers for other candidates, religious gatherings and community organizations and civic group meetings. I have also reached out to groups that help transgender kids and parents who have transgender kids.
WCT: Why do you think it is important to have LGBTQ judges and more specifically transgender judges on the bench?
JRQ: Diversity is essential in government and without it there is no legitimacy because you are only representing certain groups. It is also important for sharing ideas. When I am on the bench, I will be a resource for all the judges who are adjusting to the fact that LGBTQ people are a part of society.
We are a multi-faceted society and this means all marginalized groups should be a part of the decision-making process.
WCT: Where do you see the courts moving? You spoke about the restorative justice model in our 2018 interview with you.
JRQ: We have to move to a restorative/rehabilitative justice model because incarceration and fines are not always the solution. Prison does not restore people, it isolates and alienates them. There has to be others ways to compensate injured parties. We need to move toward rehabilitating people so their return from incarceration makes them a part of society, not removed from it due to various barriers they face. Society will be better if we embrace those who have been released from prison.
WCT: You were endorsed by the LGBT Victory Fund and the Cook County Democratic Party. Are there any other endorsements you want to mention?
JRQ: The Victory Fund is a wonderful organization and I was happy to receive their endorsement. I am a spotlight candidate here in Illinois just like Mayor Lori Lightfoot during the last election cycle. Mayor Lightfoot and state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz ( 6th District ) have recently endorsed my candidacy.
I am the first out transgender judicial candidate the Cook County Democratic Party has ever endorsed. The meetings I have had with them have been very encouraging, open and warm.
The Chicago Federation of Labor also endorsed me and I am grateful since I have represented working families during my entire legal career. I have also received Personal PAC and the Democrats of Northfield Township endorsements.
WCT: What else do you think is important for voters to know about you?
JRQ: I have run five marathons so I know how to traingo the distance and finish what I started. I have been rated qualified or recommended by every bar association that rates judicial candidates and have practiced law for 36 years.
I have a partner, Stephanie Marder, and daughter with whom I have great relationships. Stephanie and I have been together for almost seven years. I like to travel and have a vast comic-book collection.
See VoteJillRoseQuinn.com .