On April 4, voters in Lake County will choose representatives to make decisions for local towns, schools, parks, libraries, and even some fire departments. They will also vote on referendums to assist them in making decisions.
However, only about 25% of the races will count their votes.
According to data on the Lake County clerk’s website, only 64 of the 245 elections now on the ballot—231 for elective positions and 14 referendums—are contested, and 13 have no candidates. There is not rare for a sizable number of uncontested local elections for municipal offices.
There is voter fatigue following the statewide and federal elections in November, according to Keith Brin, the chair of the Lake County Republican Party. According to Brin, people are typically fed up with politics after general election cycles. “People are just getting back to their lives and not thinking about politics because of the hatred of the last few years. The degree of indifference is hardly shocking.
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According to Lauren Beth Gash, chair of the Lake County Democratic Party, people may be discouraged from running for office if they see people attending school board meetings in large numbers to voice their complaints about the need for masks during the coronavirus pandemic and courses they worry might be taught to their kids.
“It’s terrible that people may be deterred from running because of the national climate, which includes Mega MAGA protesters whining about COVID protection, things that aren’t even being taught in their schools, and a fundamental ignorance of democracy,” said Gash. People tend to be less engaged in local problems and more interested in those that affect the federal government.
According to Gash, local boards are also quite significant in our day-to-day lives. Many residents who pay attention are content with their elected representatives and have no desire to challenge them. According to Brin, more candidates and increased interest in municipal elections could result from improved efforts to tell voters about them and their positions for election.
The availability of opportunities in many municipal elections, according to Brin, is not adequately publicized. “Most people are aware that Congress and the president are elected every two and four years, respectively, but when it comes to school board elections, very few people are aware of the issues at stake.”
Voters in towns like Waukegan, Zion, Wadsworth, Lake Forest, Gurnee, Wauconda, and Mundelein still have a choice in who sets policy and pays taxes, despite the high percentage of uncontested elections. All Waukegan residents will decide in a referendum whether the city will remain led by a mayor or change to a different style of government where the City Council still has the power to make crucial decisions.
Still, the city manager serves as the chief executive. On Wednesday, a referendum challenge was dropped. Seven seats are fought because all nine Waukegan aldermen are up for re-election; however, four races will be determined in the Democratic primary on February 28.
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Voters will choose the Democratic nominees in the primary between Jose A. Guzman and Ald. Patrick Seger in the 2nd Ward, Darren E. Lewis and Juan Martinez in the 3rd Ward, Keith Turner and Brendan Stewart in the 6th Ward, and Lynn Florian and Mike Hewitt in the 8th Ward. In April, the victors won’t face any opposition.
In the 9th Ward, independent candidate Ald. Thomas Hayes and former Lake County Clerk Robin O’Conner will square off in April. Felix Rivera, a 7th Ward alderman who is also independent, will support Michael Donnenwirth or Killian Skaronea in the Democratic primary.
Victor M. Felix is running against Ald. Roudell Kirkwood in the Democratic primary, and David Villalobos, a former alderman from the 4th Ward, will support the victor in April. Six candidates are vying for three seats on the Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 Board of Education in yet another heated Waukegan election. They are Carolina Fabian, Lucy Leguizamo, Rick Riddle, Rick Riddle, Khershuana Hanna, and Randy Sobecki.
Six candidates are vying for four seats on the Warren Township High School District 121 Board of Education. Mercedes Shackleford, Lynn Ulrich, Tony DeMonte, Steve Carlson, Marc Piszkiewicz, and Beth Pope. This year, there are mayoral elections in Zion and Wadsworth. Zion Mayor Billy McKinney is up against write-in candidates Tracey Johnson and Shawn T. White. Ken Furlan is challenging Glenn Ryback, the president of Wadsworth Village.
There could be a large turnout in Lake Forest as Prue Beidler, Stanford Tack, and Paul Hamann are vying for mayor in a three-way race. Voters will also decide on a $106.6 million referendum for Lake Forest High School District 115.
A $175 million referendum for the Mundelein Consolidated High School District 120 will be decided by Mundelein voters. Wauconda voters will determine whether to establish their community as a home-rule municipality.