With the passage of Labor Day, school starts and political campaigns for the 2012 primaries begin. While Illinois will lack a major U.S. Senate or governor race at the top of the ballot and voting for President Barack Obama seems like a shoo-in for most Chicagoans, there are a number of down-ballot races in the Roscoe View area competing for our attention.
Although the election is not until March 20 of next year, in the coming weeks, candidates will begin to officially announce their campaigns and our neighborhood will be canvassed by volunteers seeking ballot nomination petition signatures for their favorite candidates. Roscoe View Journal has assembled a look at some of the candidates’ petitions you may see circulating and some of the more important dates you should watch for.
In Illinois, candidates who want to get on the ballot must circulate ballot nomination petitions and collect hundreds of signatures from currently registered voters in their district. The signature gathering process is full of picayune rules and regulations, many of which only exist in case law, rather than written regulation. If candidates do not follow them exactly, they can be knocked off the ballot long before election day.
For that reason, the signature gathering period is considered, “the campaign before the campaign,” by Illinois politicos and watched closely. An early sign of a candidate’s seriousness is how professionally they run their signature gathering campaign. Tuesday, September 6 was the first day to circulate ballot nomination petitions, with the deadline in the first week of December.
11th District State Representative, Incumbent: Ann Williams (D)
With just one year of her first term under her belt, Williams is no stranger to Springfield, as she was a lobbyist and member of Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s staff prior to election.
“I am currently planning on running for re-election,” she told Roscoe View Journal earlier this month, but she has yet to make an official announcement. “There is plenty more that I would like to see accomplished both in the short- and long-term which would benefit the community.”
Jonathan Goldman, a Springfield environmental lobbyist, ran in 2010 for State Representative in the 10th District but was remapped into the 11th District this past year. Actively involved in 32nd Ward politics, Goldman says he wants to run for state legislative office but says he considers incumbent Williams, “an ally.”
Goldman, who says,”I have no intention of running for either State Representative of the 11th District or State Senator of the 6th District,” is now considering moving his family south into the 5th State Senate district to run against recently appointed Democratic State Senator Annazette Collins.
Scott Tucker, the Republican candidate for the 11th district in 2010, recently told Roscoe View Journal that he does not plan to run again this year.
12th District State Representative, Incumbent: Sara Feigenholtz (D)
First elected to the legislature in 1995, Sara Feigenholtz is now the most senior member of the House on Chicago’s north lakefront. Feigenholtz’ political staff report that she will seek re-election.
As of today, she has no announced opponents. In 2010, Feigenholtz ran unopposed in the Primary Election, but had a Republican challenger in the General Election, Dave Lenkowski, who she defeated by a significant margin.
32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman, Incumbent: John Fritchey
Once the stronghold of legendary Democratic powerhouse Dan Rostenkowski’s political machine, John Fritchey ran unopposed for the seat in 2008 after the last elements of Rostenkowski’s operation were defeated by Scott Waguespack in a bitter 2007 aldermanic campaign.
Not government officials, Chicago’s ward committeemen are political party posts with no salary and declining prominence. Once the chief distributors of patronage jobs, Democratic ward committeemen have lost their power and luster as Chicago’s patronage system has steadily eroded. Yet, today’s Democratic committeemen still have influence over lower ballot positions who have trouble raising funds and voter interest, like circuit court judge and Water Reclamation District Commissioner. Ward committeemen also get to brush shoulders with various political bigwigs, as Democratic candidates of all levels vie forcCommitteeman endorsements and volunteer armies every election season.
Fritchey, who is also a Cook County Commissioner, was a Waguespack ally in 2007 and told Roscoe View Journal that he will run for reelection in 2012. But Fritchey and Waguespack have developed an enmity in recent years and Waguespack has been rumored of considering a run for Democratic Committeeman.
Reached yesterday, Waguespack says he’s still mulling over a run. “I haven’t pulled the trigger yet,” he says.
32nd Ward Republican Committeeman, Incumbent: John Curry
Mirroring the Democrats, there’s a Republican Committeeman too. Incumbent John Curry says that, “he intends to run for re-election and he was unaware of any possible challengers.”
Disclosure: The author was formerly a staffer for John Fritchey. Mike Fourcher contributed to this report.