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March 15, 2016 — Illinois Primary Election
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10th Judicial Circuit Court — Democratic PartyCandidate for JudgeBrandt vacancy

Photo of Sonni Williams

Sonni Williams

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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Bring balance to the bench, there are too many career criminal prosecutors on the bench.
  • Push for 2nd chance program for first time non-violent felony offenders who improve their lives get a clear path back to the community as productive citizens.
  • Improve the public perception that judges should not be holden to any group and everyone including those who cannot afford an attorney are treated with respect.



Deputy Corporation Counsel, City of Peoria (2014–current)
Interim Corporation Counsel, City of Peoria (2012–2014)
Assistant Corporation Counsel-Senior Staff Attorney, City of Peoria (2000–2012)
Assistant Public Defender, Tazewell County Public Defender's Office (1999–2000)
711 Intern as traffic prosecutor, Tazewll County State's Attorney (1998–1999)


Northern Illinois University College of Law J.D., Law (1999)
University of Iowa B.A., History (1994)

Community Activities

Active Member, Rotary Club-Peoria North (2015–current)
Active Member, Kiwanis Club-Downtown Peoria (2015–current)
Active Member, First Federated Church of Peoria (2014–current)
Member, Peoria Friendship House Board (2015–current)


Sonni Williams grew up in a rural small town in Iowa.  Her parents labored hard as blue-collar workers to put food on the table and provide for their family in the best way they knew how. Her mother cleaned restaurants at night and her father worked in the press-room at a local newspaper. They raised their children to be good citizens, to have compassion for others, to have strong moral values, to take personal responsibility for their lives and to be grateful for the blessings in life.  Sonni applies these values at every phase of her life.

Sonni has been a member of the Peoria community for 25 years building a thriving family and successful law career.  Her husband of 19 years, Dick B. Williams is a life-long Peorian and a product of District 150 School District, graduating from Richwoods High School. They have been blessed with two sons, Ian, a high school senior, and Alex, middle school eighth grader. Sonni’s parents live close as well. Her husband’s family has a proud heritage of involvement and commitment to bettering the Peoria community.  Dick is also an attorney and works at his family’s law practice with his father, Dick L. Williams, who founded Williams, Williams, Bembeneck and Associates.

Sonni and Dick met as college students at University of Iowa. Later, both attended Northern Illinois University School of Law, Dick graduated in 1996 and Sonni in 1999. As a law student, Sonni Williams worked as a law clerk for a family law attorney in DuPage County and as an intern at the Tazewell County State’s Attorney’s office. After she received her law degree, she worked as an Associate for Williams & Associates and as an Assistant Tazewell County Public Defender.

Since January of 2000, Sonni has served the City of Peoria as an Assistant Corporation Counsel and now serves as Peoria’s Deputy Corporation Counsel.  Sonni has extensive experience in bench and jury trials. Her wide-ranging experience includes traffic, ordinance, and civil matters in state and federal courts. In addition, she was the lead counsel arguing cases before the State’s 3rd District Appellate Court, State of Illinois Supreme Court, and the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sonni has been blessed in so many ways. Living the “American Dream”, Sonni feels compelled to “pay it forward” the Peoria community. She has served eight years on the governing Board and three years on the Foundation Board for EP!C, f/k/a Parc, whose mission is to enrich the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. She currently serves on the Board of the Peoria Friendship House. Their mission is “to do the work of Jesus Christ, providing Hope, Respect, and Guidance towards a path to Prosperity.” Sonni is also a member of Kiwanis Club of Peoria; Rotary Club of Peoria-North; and League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria. She is a St. Jude Runner and is the Co-Chair of the Campaign Committee for Prairie State Legal Services, a not-for-profit agency that provides free legal services to indigent individuals in the Tri-County area who are in dire need of legal representation in serious civil legal problems that affect their basic human needs.

In her spare time, Sonni loves to run including running 5k, half marathon, and full marathon races.

Judicial Ratings

Illinois State Bar Association Judicial Advisory PollNot Recommended

Who supports this candidate?

Elected Officials (10)

  • Warren Rayford, Peoria Park District Trustee
  • Robert Johnson, Sr., Peoria Park District Trustee
  • Ernestine Jackson, Peoria Pubic Schools Board Member
  • Rachel Parker, Peoria County Board Member
  • Sharon Williams, Peoria County Board Member
  • Gene Petty, Greater Peoria Sanitary Board Trustee
  • Jackie Petty, Peoria Park District Trustee
  • Junior Watkins, Peoria County Board Member
  • W. Eric Turner, Peoria County Councilman
  • Lynn Scott Pearson, Peoria County Board Member

Individuals (5)

  • Greg Walter, Peoria Heights Fire Chief
  • Camille Coates, Commissioner on Peoria's Liquor Commission
  • Helen King, citizen advocate
  • Mike Miller, Commissioner on Peoria's Liquor Commission
  • Sherry Carter-Allen, President of AFSCME Local 3464

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

The essence of a judge is to serve as an impartial, wise and thoughtful adjudicator of facts and the law. My judicial philosophy is based on my commitment to give every one and every matter that comes before me fair, unbiased, respectful and intelligent consideration. My diverse personal and professional background gives me the perspective and experience to support that method. I believe that a judge has to cut through the emotions and treat everyone with respect and base her decisions in accordance with the rule of law.


I also firmly believe in common-sense sentencing. A judge is charged with adjudication that protects the public good, public resources and keeping communities safe. As a judge, I will be committed to sentencing that provides good people who make poor choices a path back to productive citizenship. I believe that this interest, balanced with the public interests of safety and the protection of public resources means that judges must use their best efforts to infuse justice with sensible sentences. If elected to the bench, I will use the tools available in sentencing such as the deferred prosecution program for first-time non-violent felony offender that allows for dismissal and expungement of the record of the criminal case. The defendant has to uphold his/her commitment to being a good citizen by getting a GED or other vocational training, getting a job or performing community service, paying restitution, and staying out of trouble. In order to address the criminal justice system, there needs to be a wide spectrum of alternative ways to give a second chance to people who make a mistake stay out of the prison system. 

Videos (1)

— March 14, 2016 Comcast

Hi, I'm Sonni Williams and I'm running as a Democrat for Peoria County Circuit Judge. A judge occupies an important position of trust in our community. I will bring independence and fairness to the bench. I also bring a wealth of experience with 17 plus years of experience. Everyone in the court room, including those who cannot afford attorneys, should be treated with respect and deserves to have judicial system be equal to all. Vote for Sonni Williams.

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