By Jim Nowlan
Candidates for a number of openings for county office in 2018 may begin circulating their petitions as of the first week of September, with petitions to be filed in early December.
Five of the eight seats on the county board as well as offices of county clerk, sheriff, treasurer, and resident county judge are to be contested via nomination by political party at the March 20 primary election and then filled at the November general election.
Two seats from the First District (eastern Stark County; see map nearby) of the county board and three from the Second District (western Stark County) are to be filled by election.
The two in the first district would be for seats held by recent appointee Robin Lindner, of Bradford, and whoever is appointed to fill the board seat recently vacated by board chair Coleen Magnussen.
The second district seats are those held by board member Al Curry, Bill Loane and the person to be appointed to fill the post held by board vice chair Fulvio Zerla, who recently resigned.
Veteran county clerk Linda Pyell has told The News that she does not plan to run for re-election.
Treasurer Paula Leezer has expressed her desire to seek election for her position and Sheriff Steve Sloan is expected to run for his post in 2018. Both were appointed by former chair Magnussen in the past year.
Judge Thomas Keith, of Wyoming, has informed the Illinois Supreme Court that he will not seek re-election in 2018.
At present, Keith is among three finalists for appointment by the President to the post of U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, based in Springfield.
Should Keith be named to that post, an appointee of the court could fill his position for Stark until the end of 2018. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, of Rock Island, who represents the 3rd Supreme Court District of Illinois, which includes Stark County, would make the appointment. The appointee would not have to be a resident of Stark County.
Bigger issues call for citizens to step up and run
The News spoke this past week with Stark GOP Chair Mike Bigger, of Wyoming, about his thoughts on the upcoming elections.
“My feeling is we should remain neutral through the primary,” Bigger said. “We will set up candidate forums and work to get our Republican message out and give all our Republican candidates the opportunity to be seen and heard.
“Once the voters decide who they want their Republican candidates for the general election to be, we will work as a county party to support the nominees for each position in the general election.”
Bigger added: “For our municipal and county governments to remain vibrant and truly viable we need people to step up and offer themselves to public service.
“These days there is lots of talk of the need for less government and consolidation of units of government.
When local and county governments cannot get people to step up and even run for open positions, it begins to beg the question: ‘Do we really need that unit of local government?’ The voters and taxpayers of Stark County need to have choices in the voting booth as to who will serve them in various positions.”
There is no organized Democratic Party in Stark County at present, and thus no chair from whom to seek comment.
Anyone interested in becoming a candidate in the March 20 primary election should contact County Clerk Linda Pyell or her deputy, Heather Hollis, for more information about petition circulation and numbers of signatures needed.
Pyell and Hollis can be reached at 286-5911.
By Jim Nowlan