Perryville lawyer to challenge incumbent in Perry County associate circuit judge contest

Thursday, November 19, 2009

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- A Republican primary election contest is brewing for associate circuit judge in Perry County.

Lawyer Jason Tilley announced Wednesday that he's hosting a campaign kick-off dinner at 4 p.m. Saturday at American Legion Post 133 in Perryville. Tilley, the brother of state Rep. Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, is making his first bid for office.

The incumbent, Associate Circuit Judge Michael J. Bullerdieck, has been in office since 1987. He is 60 years old, which makes him eligible to run for two more full terms before mandatory judicial retirement would force him from office.

Tilley said he has no complaints about how Bullerdieck has handled his job. "Nobody is going to hear me say something bad about Judge Bullerdieck," he said.

Instead, the 42-year-old said he believes his life experience will give him a different approach to the position. In particular, he cited his seven years as an aide and advocate for adults with developmental disabilities in an agency called the Special Neighbors Program in Independence, Mo.

"That gives me some unique experiences, personalitywise," Tilley said. "I just think that is something different. I am also an entrepreneur and small-business owner."

Every county in Missouri has at least one associate circuit judge who handles misdemeanor crime cases, preliminary proceedings in felony cases and smaller civil lawsuits. In all but the largest counties, the judges are selected in partisan elections.

Bullerdieck said Wednesday he intends to seek another term and welcomed Tilley to the race.

"It is part of our system that anybody can file that is interested in having the position," Bullerdieck said. "Any of the elected judges in the state have to realize that someone can file against them at any time."

Official filing for partisan offices begins in February. Partisan primary elections are held in August. The last sitting judge in the area to lose a primary election was David Mann in Scott County, who lost a Democratic primary to Scott Horman in 2006.

Under rules of judicial ethics, candidates are expected to refrain from fierce attacks on each other.

The lure of a judicial post includes the opportunity for community service it provides, Tilley said.

"I love the practice of law," Tilley said. "It is a new challenge."

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Perryville, Mo.

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