The Double Space Guide to the Illinois Primary Election

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Illustration by Sophie Lucido Johnson.

by the staff of the ChiArts Double Space

The year 2020 is a big one for elections. While the national news is all abuzz about the presidential election, there are plenty of local elections that are just as important to know about and understand.

Whether it’s your first, third, or hundredth time voting, all the names and titles can get confusing. Luckily, the Double Space has got your back. First, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about primary elections, and then break down the most important races to pay attention to in Illinois.

The Basics

What is a primary election?

A primary election is an election in which voters indicate which candidate they want for their party. This stage of the election is to narrow the field of candidates. Primary winners go on to the general election.

 

What is there to look out for, besides the U.S. presidential election? 

In the primaries you can vote for candidates in any political party, regardless of your party affiliation. There are also lots of categories to pay attention to like state attorney, Senate, and House Representative.

 

Where and when can you vote?

You can find a place to vote using the board of election commissioners website. Early voting in Illinois has already begun; our official election is on March 17.

 

What should you bring with you to vote?

You should bring your ID to prove who you are in order to prevent voter fraud. Most states (including Illinois) accept only official photo IDs such as drivers license, state ID, and passports.

 

Can you take a selfie after you vote?

Yes, but not if the ballot is in it. That’s a felony in Illinois.

 

How many people generally vote in primary elections in Illinois?

Voter turnout is always different, but turnout is lower for primary elections. In elections in the recent past, about 60 percent of the population votes during presidential election years, and about 40 percent during midterm elections, according to data from Fairvote.

 

Will Illinois’ primary election count in the decision for U.S. Presidential candidates?

The primary election allows you to vote according to your fundamental beliefs, and not just in favor of your party’s frontrunner. It is the election that determines who will appear on the ballot in the general election.

 

Why aren’t there any measures on this ballot?

A ballot measure is a question or proposed piece of legislation that is approved or rejected by voters. This is just an election to determine whose names will appear on the ballot in the general election.

 

U.S. Senate Illinois

What does this person do? Why is this important?

U.S. Senators are the most influential influential members of the legislative process. The Senate is the upper house of Congress in charge of writing and approving laws and policies.

One of their powers is approving or rejecting proposals from the president and a lot of our country’s discord on societal progress comes down to people voting along their party line, so whether or not the Senate is majority Republican or majority Democrat is, especially today, hugely telling of the progress Congress will make until the next cycle of elections.

Having an informed opinion of who you’re voting for the Senate means having the person you most agree with politically in one of the most important positions of the lawmaking process.

 

Who’s running? 

CANDIDATE NAME: Dick Durbin

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: He’s the only Democrat still in the running. Currently, he has a huge responsibility in the Senate as the Democratic Whip. He is up for re-election for his fifth Senate term (which are 6 years each). Part of his agenda is the Chicago HEAL Initiative focusing on gun reform and other contributing factors.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Danny Malouf

PARTY AFFILIATION: Libertarian

BASICS: Most of his background has been in the private sector, working for global corporations. He’s extremely against government involvement in just about everything, ranging from abortion to the economy to climate change. He’s a huge proponent of hard work and earning your keep. He also pledges to donate half his Senate salary to Illinois charities.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Willie Wilson

PARTY AFFILIATION: Independent

BASICS: He’s a self-identified Democrat, and has run as a Democrat for president and for Chicago mayor in past elections. However, when his presidential campaign didn’t take off, he dropped out and voted for Donald Trump. His main point is that Illinois tax collection has not equally benefited all races. He financed his own mayoral bids.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Patrick Feges

PARTY AFFILIATION: Independent

BASICS: He’s a left-leaning candidate but pushes mainly for a return to a commonsensical Illinois where farmers are valued and the youth are educated. Most of his presence has been in the private sector with jobs in real estate. His biggest agenda plot point appears to be his hatred for Dick Durbin.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Casey Chlebek

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: Chlebek is a Polish immigrant who focused on engineering when he came to the United States at the University of Illinois. He believes that the immigration system needs a complete rehaul, and is an avid Trump supporter (a card-carrying member of the Make America Great Again committee). He also places an emphasis on the importance of young families in the U.S. economy. 

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Mark Curran

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: A former Cook County Sheriff and senior prosecutor, Curran is, according to his website, “Pro-life. Pro-liberty. Proven leader.” Part of his agenda banks on his pro-life standing, as he was voted Most Pro-Life in the US Senate running by the Illinois Right to Life. He is also labelled by some as a ‘Never-Trumper’.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Peggy Hubbard

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: Former U.S. Navy Veteran and a retired police officer with a resentment towards immigrants (she calls them criminals on her website) and admiration for President Trump. She is extremely “America-first” in mentality in international relations.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Robert Marshall

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: A once-Democrat Harvard-educated radiologist with distinctly conservative feelings about abortion, gun control, and immigrants. He is against the idea of sanctuary cities. The part of his website dedicated to Illinois-focused issues reads, “Coming Soon.”

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Tom Tarter

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: A urologist and cancer surgeon who’s running with Central and Southern Illinoisians in mind. He feels that the Senate seats only show Chicago’s liberal ideas, and plans to continue the “fight” against socialist Democrats alongside President Trump.

 

Chicago Area House Races

What does this person do? 

The representatives in the Illinois House of Representatives are part of the legislative branch of the state government, and work closely with the governor. The people in the House help the governor pass a state budget, and they pass bills on public policy matters, taxes, and voting. For example, if the governor proposes a budget that the House disagrees with, the budget will not go into effect.

There are 99 legislative chambers in the country. Illinois represents one of them.

 

Why is this important?

This year’s outcomes are especially important because the incoming representatives will likely influence the state’s redistricting process after the 2020 census is completed. That matters a lot: redistricting has historically been used to restrict state funds from needy communities, or to change who has access to public services, such as schools.

 

Why are there so many different districts?

Chicago and surrounding suburbs are huge. It’s important for all parts of the city and its surrounding area to be represented.

 

How do I find out which district I’m voting for?

You can go to House.gov and enter your zip code under the “Find Your Representative” heading in the top-right corner of the website. The name of your representative, along with his or her district number, will appear in the results.

 

How do I learn more about these candidates?

You can look at their websites.

Below are the people running for each district. The (i) indicates an incumbent, meaning the person who has held the office for the past term. There are no Republican or Independent candidates for the first ten districts in Illinois, which cover the city of Chicago.

District One

DEMOCRATS:

Aaron Ortiz (i)
Alicia Elena Martinez

District Two

DEMOCRATS:

Theresa Mah (i)
Bobby Martinez Olson
Kenneth Kozlar

District Three

DEMOCRATS:

Nidia Carranza
Eva Dina Delgado (i)

District Four

DEMOCRATS:

Delia Ramirez (i)

District Five

DEMOCRATS:

Lamont Robinson Jr. (i)

District Six

DEMOCRATS:

Sonya Harper (i)

District Seven

DEMOCRATS:

Emanuel Welch (i)

District Eight

DEMOCRATS:

La Shawn Ford (i)

District Nine

DEMOCRATS:

Tyjuan Cratic
Lakesia Collins
Sandra Schneller
Nicole Harvey
Aaron Turner
Trina Mangrum
Maurice Edwards

District Ten

DEMOCRATS:

Gerard Moorer
Jawaharial Williams (i)
Gina Zuccaro

 

Illinois Supreme Court

What does this person do? 

The Supreme Court of Illinois is the highest court within the state. The court is composed of seven justices, who each serve a term of ten years.

 

Why is this important?

They play a major role in our government. Justices hear the appeal decisions made in lower court trials and go through the trial trying to decide if the decisions violates civil rights and / or liberties involving the constitution.

 

Who’s running? 

CANDIDATE NAME: P. Scott Neville

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Judge Neville received his undergraduate degree from Culver Stockton College and his Juris Doctor (J.D.)  from the Washington University School of Law.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Cynthia Cobbs

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Cobbs received her undergraduate degree from Morgan State University and her master’s in social work from the University of Maryland. Cobbs went on to receive her J.D. degree from the IIT — Chicago Kent College of Law.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Daniel Epstein

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Here is a direct quote from his campaign. “Daniel Epstein is running for Illinois Supreme Court to eliminate ethical loopholes, bad incentives, bias, and barriers to access by reforming the Court’s rules and utilizing its authority over court infrastructure.”

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Sheldon Harris

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Harris graduated from University of Arizona in 1963, and got his J.D. from University of Illinois at Chicago, John Marshall Law School in 1966. 

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Nathaniel R. Howse

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Judge Howse received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from Loyola University in Chicago. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1976.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Margaret Stanton McBride

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: McBride got her Bachelor’s degree from Newton COllege of the Sacred Heart and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Jessie G. Reyes

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Reyes received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his J.D. from John Marshall Law School.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Judy Cates

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Cates received her B.A. degree in government from Cornell University in 1973 and her J.D. degree from the Washington University School of Law in 1977.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: John B. Barberis Jr.

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: Barberis received his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and his J.D. from the St. Louis University School of Law.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: David K. Overstreet

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

BASICS: Overstreet received his Bachelor’s from David Lipscomb University in 1988 and his J.D. from University of Tennessee College of Law. 

 

State’s Attorney

What does this person do? Why is this important?

The duties of the state’s attorney generally include deciding whether or not something is a crime. After figuring out criminal charges, the state’s attorney will then prosecute those charged with a crime. This includes conducting discovery, plea bargaining, and trial.

 

Why is this particular election in the news so much right now?

Incumbent Kim Foxx is being looked at closely after her handling of the Jesse Smollett case. Smollett was a famous actor that police believed faked his own hate attack. Foxx dropped charges, but he was eventually indicted after a special prosecutor was appointed.

The union for Chicago police members has repeatedly criticized Foxx for letting Smollett get away. Her opponents, former prosecutor Bill Conway, former Ald. Bob Fioretti and former prosecutor Donna More, say she can’t be trusted.

 

Who’s Running?

CANDIDATE NAME: Bill Conway

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Conway served for several years in the U.S. Navy and became a lieutenant. He has also worked as an assistant state’s attorney, and as an adjunct professor at DePaul. Conway is the son of a billionaire who co-funded the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, and Conway has come under fire for being backed by this group.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Kim Foxx

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: She is the current state attorney and the second African American to hold the position. She ran on a platform for criminal justice reform and is termed a “reformist” or “reform-minded” prosecutor.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Bob Fioretti

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: He served as the alderman for the 2nd Ward of Chicago, which includes parts of Bronzeville, East Garfield Park, Illinois Medical District, Little Italy, the Loop, the Near West Side, Prairie District, South Loop, University Village, Westhaven, and the West Loop. He was an alderman for two terms. He has unsuccessfully run for Mayor of Chicago and the Cook County Board President. He is running on a tough-on-crime platform, and believes that the attorney general needs to be harder on criminals. 

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Donna More

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: More has worked in the general counsel in many regulatory industries including gaming, medical cannabis, liquor, and promotional contests for companies. She has represented many large companies and is a former prosecutor. 

 

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner

What does this person do? Why is this important?

It’s a nine-person board that helps with finances and procedures that help with the protection of the water environment of Cook County. This includes the sewage and Stormwater Management Utility. 

 

How long is the term?

Two terms, 6 years each

 

Who’s running? 

CANDIDATE NAME: Michael G. Grace

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic 

BASICS: He is serving currently as a Vice President of the South Lyons Township Sanitary District; he got elected in 2010.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Patricia Theresa Flynn

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic 

BASICS: She is more into public services rather than politics. She got interested after an incident surrounding tainted drinking water in Crestwood.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Frank Avila

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic 

BASICS: Avila is a civil engineer with a Master’s degree in Finance. He was elected in 2002 and got reelected in 2008 and 2014.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Heather Boyle

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic 

BASICS: Boyle has no political experience in office. She is an activist and she said she doesn’t want another Flint, Michigan to happen — especially not in Chicago.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: M Cameron ‘Cam’ Davis

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic 

BASICS: Davis served as President Obama’s Great Lakes pointer and coordinated 11 federal departments to invest in the Great Lakes restoration. 

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Kimberly Neely Dubuclet

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic 

BASICS: Dubuclet was elected in November 2018 for commissioner. She has been appointed as Illinois State Representative. 

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Mike Cashman

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic

BASICS: This is Cashman’s first time running for office; he has been a part of volunteer organizations surrounding water. 

 

Cook County Board of Review

What does this person do? Why is this important?

These are the judges who rule over decisions made about properties for property owners. 

 

Who’s running? 

CANDIDATE NAME: Abdelnasser Rashid

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Rashid’s background is in helping senior citizens advocate for their own property rights.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Tammy Wendt

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

BASICS: Wendt went to law school and wants to put her legal expertise towards property decisions.

 

CANDIDATE NAME: Dan Patlak

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican (Incumbent)

BASICS: Patalak is passionate about keeping property taxes low for home and property owners.

 

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