It might come as a surprise to North Riverside voters, but there’s actually a contested race for one spot on the North Riverside Public Library District Board of Trustees.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the ballot, however. In fact, judging by the ballot alone, the race looks like it’s short a candidate.

Last December, just three candidates filed nominating petitions. Running for the two six-year terms available were incumbents Kenneth Rouleau and Allan Pineda. Filing petitions for the one four-year unexpired term up for election was newcomer Kathy Bonnar. 

No one filed nominating petitions to run for the one two-year unexpired term on the ballot.

But a pair of incumbents have now filed to run as write-in candidates, with one of them essentially guaranteed election to the two-year seat.

Incumbent library board member P.J. Folz, who was elected to a six-year term back in 2013, has filed as a write-in for the two-year term.

Meanwhile, incumbent trustee Priscilla Skenandore has filed as a write-in for the four-year unexpired term, setting up a contested race against first-timer Bonnar.

“That’s fine,” said Bonnar, a professor at Concordia University who says she has been a loyal and frequent North Riverside Library patron during her 30 years in the village. “The more people running the better.”

Bonnar is assistant professor of counselor education at Concordia University. She was hired there in 2004 as an adjunct instructor and promoted to full-time in 2010. In addition to teaching courses in education counseling, Bonnar also works with older adults in the university’s gerontology program.

She said one of the first things she did when she moved to North Riverside from Austin, Texas, three decades ago was get a library card. Bonnar said she visits the North Riverside Public Library two to three times a week.

“It’s a place to meet people and talk to people,” Bonnar said. “I’m more than anxious to help the library board involve the community. They do a good job, and I’d like to add to that.”

Bonnar said the nudge to collect signatures and file to run came after she was approached and ask if she would be interested in being a trustee. Asked who inquired about her becoming involved, Bonnar, declined to say.

But, the suggestion appealed to her.

“When it was suggested, I thought, ‘Yeah, I think I would.’ Hopefully, it will happen. We’ll see how it goes.”

Skenandore was appointed to the library board on Jan. 16, 2018, replacing Trustee Elizabeth Tomasek, who was elected to a six-year term in 2015. Tomasek resigned the post in November 2017 after moving out of the village. Skenandore is still involved as a member of the North Riverside Library Foundation and previously was an officer in the organization Hispanics of North Riverside (HONR). She also sits on the program committee of the board for UPC Seguin of Greater Chicago.

“I have been in the community previously and people know me,” said Skenandore about the challenge she faces running against a candidate whose name is on the ballot. I’m confident people know my name.”

Winning as a write-in candidate in a contested race is typically a tall order.

To vote for a write-in candidate on a touch screen, you have to press the “write-in” box at the bottom of the list of candidates in a race. A keyboard will appear on the screen, and the voter can then type in the name of the candidate before pressing “OK.”

On a paper ballot, voters need to write in the name of the candidate on the line provided for that particular race on the ballot and mark it with a corresponding arrow.

According to the Cook County Clerk’s website, spelling a write-in candidate’s name does not have to be 100-percent accurate as long as judges can determine intent to vote for a registered write-in for a particular race.

Election judges will not count names of people who have not officially registered as write-ins.