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Two to vie for circuit judge seat

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BLOOMINGTON – A McLean County judge and top prosecutor announced Tuesday each will seek the 11th Judicial Circuit seat. This came shortly after Judge Paul Lawrence announced his retirement at the end of the year. Associate Judge Amy McFarland and State's Attorney Don Knapp are the first two candidates to announce they are in the running for the position. Each will run as a Republican.

 “My vision is to elevate the professionalism of the family law division and the courts in general so that the parties that appear before me know that their matter is treated with dignity and professionalism,” said McFarland in a statement.

Knapp could not be reached for comment.

McFarland has been the presiding judge of the McLean Co. Family Division court since 2018, two years after she was appointed as an associate judge.

 “Her campaign will emphasize her experience as an associate judge,” a press release said.

McFarland entered the judicial system in 2000 as a lawyer and had worked with Bloomington Legal Services. Recently, she has served on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Court Operations During COVID Task Force. She is a 1996 graduate of Illinois State University, Normal, and obtained her law degree in 1999 from the University of Denver (Colo.).

Knapp, who will officially announce his candidacy at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at Union Park, has been State's Attorney since 2018 when the McLean Co. Board appointed him via a recommendation from chair John McIntyre. Knapp was an assistant county administrator for about a year before taking his current post. Prior to his time in the administration office, Knapp served as McLean’s first assistant State's Attorney for the civil division.

His background includes 12 years as an appellate law clerk for the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa and Peoria, where he analyzed appeals and drafted opinions on civil and criminal cases. He also worked six years with State Farm’s special investigative unit.

Besides McLean, the 11th Judicial Circuit also covers Ford, Livingston, Logan and Woodford Counties.

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