Tuesday's election is mass exercise in democracy

Posted Online: April 06, 2013, 4:34 pm
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By John Beydler, johnbeyd@qconline.com
Voters across Illinois go the polls on Tuesday to elect thousands of municipal, township, school and special district officials.

The mass exercise in democracy finds at least 345 candidates vying for about 292 offices in Rock Island County alone. In Henry County, at least 327 people are seeking about 311 slots, and, in Mercer County, at least 233 candidates are vying for about 200 offices.

There also are nine referendum questions to be decided in the three counties.
A complete list of all candidates and referendums is on Pages A13 and A14 in today's paper.

Many of the elections are officially nonpartisan. Where political parties are involved, Democrats and Republicans have no monopoly. Also on the ballot in various places are representatives of the Citizens Party, the Peoples Party, the Conservative Party and the Anti-License Party, along with both big "I" and little "i" independents.

Candidates tend to the older, but there is a wide range of ages.

Among those answering questionnaires sent around by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, the youngest are 25-year-olds -- Kate Hotle, running for the Rock Island City Council, and Nick Camlin, running for South Rock Island Township clerk.

Oldest are Ethel Perez, a trustee candidate in Moline Township, and Dan Frits, a trustee candidate in Port Byron Township. Both are 82.

Age aside, the reasons given for running are often similar. Ms. Hotle said she wants to assure Rock Island's future is as bright as its past. Mr. Frits said he wants to help improve the lifestyle of township residents.

A common answer to the question "why are you running" is that the candidate is now retired and has time to give back to the community.

Intense interest can live next door door to seeming apathy.

Rock Island features a three-way mayoral race among incumbent Dennis Pauley and businessman David Levin, who lost to Mr. Pauley by a coin flip in 2009, with businessman Rick Cassini added to the mix this time around.

In neighboring Moline, where Mayor Don Welvaert is stepping down after two terms, Scott Raes is the only candidate even though the lack of an incumbent is often a signal for intense competition.

Even more dramatic is the situation in upper the Rock Island County townships of Coe and its neighbor to the east, Canoe Creek. In Coe, there are contests for clerk, road commissioner and each of four available trustee slots. In Canoe Creek, only two people filed for the eight offices available.

All told there are about 70 offices available in the three counties for which there are no candidates.

The office in which there is least interest is one of the most important to the operation of local government -- the township tax assessors who set property values on which property tax bills are based.

There are 31 assessor slots to be filled, but only 20 candidates.The dearth of candidates is attributed to the fact assessors must complete a series of time consuming and costly training classes in order to qualify.

The most sought-after office is that of township road commissioner, the person responsible for maintaining local roads. Seventy-one people are running for the 54 slots available.

In addition to municipal, school and township officials, voters will elect members to library, cemetery and park district boards.

Perhaps the most obscure office to be filled is in Mercer County's Eliza Township, which will elect a school land commissioner. Such commissions, once common, oversee land granted to townships when they were formed to help fund local schools. In most jurisdictions, the land has long since been sold.

Efforts to reach Henry Potter, the lone candidate for the school land commission, were unsuccessful.

Polling places will be open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.



Local events heading

  Today is Sunday, Aug. 31, the 243rd day of 2014. There are 122 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The Chicago and Rock Island Railroad will carry all who wish to attend the Chicago convention for half fare — that is, full fare to Chicago and return free.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Hardy Hetter, for several years yardmaster in the Burlington Railroad yards in Rock Island and Moline, was transferred to Beardstown. He was succeeded here by J.E. Albrecht.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Corn was estimated at 50 percent of the normal crop in Rock Island County by Crop Correspondent Thomas Campbell.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Robert Carroll, 12-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Farr Carroll, of near Aledo, won the grand championship of the Mercer County baby beef show with "Fat Stuff."
1964 -- 50 years ago: About 250 persons attended the first in a series of horse shows at the Hillandale Stables off Knoxville Road near Milan on Saturday afternoon and evening.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Ground was broken this morning for the $4.5 million Rock Valley Business Park near Rock Valley Plaza, Rock Island. The first building is 17,000 square feet for offices and a warehouse and should be completed by Dec. 1.

(More History)