“Someone oughta do something about this town!”
You’ve seen the Facebook postings, heard it wherever people in town congregate. Maybe you’ve said it yourself.
Things ought to be different. Different people need to be in charge of local government. But who wants the job? It’s such a pain in the neck even to run for office, because you have to fill out so many forms and jump through so many hoops.
If only the process were easier to navigate.
Cook County Clerk David Orr has heard your pleas and on Oct. 6 launched an online application process to make it simpler for people to run for suburban library districts, park districts and school boards.
The Running for Office Starter Kit allows anyone in suburban Cook County to see what offices are up for election – in this case for the April 4, 2017 Consolidated Election – and get the information and documentation they need to complete in order to throw their hat into the ring.
“Running for office should be easy,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr in a press release. “Unfortunately, it’s more daunting than it should be. Now, with our new Running for Office Starter Kit – the first of its kind in Illinois – so much of the information you need is at your fingertips.”
In rolling out the online application process, Orr noted that during the 2015 Consolidated Election more than 60 percent of the 699 total contests went uncontested.
“One of the many issues that accompany these uncompetitive elections is low voter turnout,” Orr stated. “Contested elections not only force public officials to work for their constituents’ votes by bringing different points of view into our democracy, but they also attract voters to the polls – expanding the political process on both sides of the ballot box.”
The Running for Office Starter Kit can be found on the Cook County Clerk’s website (www.cookcountyclerk.com), by selecting “Running for Office” from the drop-down menu under the “Elections – Suburban Cook County” tab on the home page.
A 3-minute video will take you through the basics of the application process and how to generate a candidate packet, which includes nominating petition forms and other documentation required to run for office.
Nomination forms come pre-populated with candidate information to help prevent the kinds of ticky-tack mistakes that often result in a candidate’s petitions being challenged and the candidate being removed from the ballot.
For now, however, candidate packets can be generated only for offices where nominating petitions can be filed directly with the Cook County Clerk’s Office. That means if you want to run for village president or trustee, township office or for library boards in Riverside or Brookfield, you’ll have to do it the hard way.
“The requirements for [school boards, park district boards and library district boards] aren’t subject to changes and differences like the offices where each municipality would set the requirements and the requirements could be different from town to town,” said James Scalzitti, deputy communications director for the Cook County Clerk.
“But this is a start. Perhaps in the future municipal and township offices could be part of it, as well.”
Anyone interested in running for office next April needs to start thinking about it now, however. The period for collecting signatures for nominating petitions has already started, and the period for filing those petitions is Dec. 12-19.