Political candidates have begun filing petitions for ballot access in the primary election next March.
Seventeen people representing more than a couple dozen candidates were in line at the McLean County Clerk's office before the 8 a.m. Monday start to the filing season.
Rachael Lund of Normal was number 17.
“I’m so excited because this is the first time I’ve ever run for office, and this is the first big milestone in this process,” Lund said. “So I’m just excited to get this part of the process checked off and move on to the next milestone."
Lund is running in McLean County Board District 5 to represent northeast Normal. She has no primary opponent. The incumbent in that district is Republican County Board Chair John McIntyre, who was also in line at 8 a.m.
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said her office gives advice ahead of time to all candidates to "dot all the Is and cross all the Ts.”
“Make sure your petitions are bound,” Michael advised the candidates. “Did you number your pages? Things like that as reminders, but we don’t talk to the specific individual because if we talk to a Republican or a Democrat and forget the Libertarian and vice versa, we don’t want to seem political.”
If the candidates don't mind the details, they run the risk of a challenge to their ballot position. Jim Rogal of the Laborers International filed paperwork for six different candidates. He said such challenges don't happen a lot.
“A numbered page here and there, while it can get someone thrown off, it usually doesn’t end up that way,” Rogal said. “The majority of challenges I’ve seen and dealt with over the years have rarely resulted in getting someone thrown off the ballot. More than anything it seems almost like a challenge to whether or not that candidate has an organization or volunteers and things like that."
Rogal has worked for the Illinois Senate staff in Springfield. This cycle he's working with McLean County Democrats on filings. He said there are more in primaries than in general elections, but even those are not too common.
“Most of them, the challenges end up being interparty, so it’s multiple people trying to fight within themselves for different spots,” he said. “It’s the nonpartisan ones that get a little more rancorous as far as personal.”
The county clerk has set up an office with about eight laptops in it. Michael said that will be for those who want to examine the petitions filed for errors, omissions, and sufficient valid signatures and a potential challenge. That work comes later though.
On the first day of filing, Rogal said people tend to be happy and upbeat.
“Everybody’s cordial, they’ve always been cordial whether I was filing in Springfield or here,” Rogal said. “Everybody knows what they are doing and they are competent in what they are doing and candidates from both parties are talking and friendly with each other, for now at least.”
If two candidates file for the same party primary for the same office, the rules require a lottery to determine who gets the advantageous first slot on the ballot.
Longtime County Board member George Gordon of Normal won't need a lottery to determine his ballot position against his Democratic primary opponent Hannah Beer. Beer filed at 8 a.m. Gordon filed a couple minutes after.
Gordon said name recognition counts for something too, and the filing is just the next step.
“From that standpoint, I’m happy to go through the process and talk to the media,” Gordon said. “I don’t think (it will be) an easy campaign. My opponent is going to work hard, and so am I.”
There will be two lotteries for ballot position in McLean County. The candidates for the Republican primary for county auditor, Trisha Malott and incumbent Michelle Anderson, filed at the same time. So did the Democratic candidates for County Board in District 8 on the west side of Bloomington, Lea Cline and Nathan “Chiko” Russo.
The lotteries will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 at the county clerk’s office.
All the candidates have spent time walking their districts, knocking on doors and getting signatures. Like many office seekers before them, they all use that process as a way to connect with the issues that matter to those they hope will become constituents.
“I really enjoyed it because it gave me the opportunity to go out and meet people in my neighborhood and meet people in my district,” Lund said.
The filing period runs through Dec. 2. The last day to file objections to petitions is Dec. 9. The last day to file as a write in candidate is Jan. 16.
According to a Facebook post from Michael on Monday, the following candidates have filed for McLean County elected offices:
Michelle Anderson (R)
Trisha Malott (R)
Robert Fazzini (D) (after 8 a.m.)
Don Everhart (R)
Erik Rankin (D)
Abbi Sorrells (D)
Kathy Yoder (R)
Don Knapp (R)
County Board District 1
Catherine Metsker (R) (after 8 a.m.)
County Board District 2
Jeff Bertrand (D)
William Friedrich (R) (after 8 a.m.)
County Board District 3
R.J. McCracken (D)
George Wendt (R)
County Board District 4
Adelita Cruz (R) (after 8 a.m.)
County Board District 5
Rachael Lund (D)
John McIntyre (R)
County Board District 6
Hannah Beer (D)
George Gordon (D) (after 8 a.m.)
County Board District 7
Val Laymon (D)
County Board District 8
Lea Cline (D)
Nathan "Chiko" Russo (D)
County Board District 9
Jackie Gunderson (D)
Susan Schafer (R)
County Board District 10
Josh Barnett (R) (after 8 a.m.)
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