While most area residents are focused on November’s general election to elect a president, many area elected officials are fixing their focus on another election.
On April 9, 2013, residents will again return to the polls for the consolidated election, this time to choose local officials, ranging from mayors and village clerks to school board members and library district trustees.
Today, Tuesday, potential candidates can visit their local city hall or school to pick up petitions to earn a place on the April ballot.
Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus said the packets of information and petitions were sent out to the local election officials (LEOs) Wednesday.
Hieronymus didn’t know exactly how many seats were open, but most of the mayoral, clerk and some trustee seats will be up for election in each of the county’s 21 municipalities. Add to that seven seats in each of the county’s 25 townships, three or four seats on each school board, and assorted library, fire and park districts’ seats ... and the number gets big fast.
“It’s going to be a lot of paperwork and a lot of people,” Hieronymus said. “It’s going to be a big ballot.”
For the April 2009 consolidated election, petitions weren’t available until January, but changes to the Illinois election laws in 2010 moved up the deadline.
Unfortunately the change also moved up the time in which petitions must be filed. This year, candidates must file their petitions between Dec. 17 and Dec. 24.
“That Dec. 24 is making everybody’s day because their offices will have to be open at least for a while,” Hieronymus said.
Potential candidates should pick up their petitions at the local administrative office, not at her office. The petitions must be returned to the same location. The order in which they are returned determines the order the names appear on the ballot.
The number of signatures required on each petition differs for each seat. Hieronymus said that for most seats, it’s determined by 5 percent of the votes cast in the last election two years ago, while a few seats require a lower percentage or a flat minimum.
Hieronymus had one warning for the signature-gathers. To sign a petition, a person must be both a resident of the district and a registered voter.
After the filing period ends, Hieronymus said the LEOs usually hold onto the petitions for about five days until the time for withdrawal and challenges are over. She expects to begin receiving the petitions the beginning of January.
Besides going through the petition process, some candidates can get their names on the ballot through the caucus process. Some area residents will gather in caucus groups Dec. 3, 4 and 5 to choose their April general election nominees. Hieronymus said the caucus dates were also moved ahead of their previous January dates.
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