Candidate hopefuls crowded the lobby of the Vermilion County’s Courthouse Annex on the first day of election petition filing Monday.
More than 20 incumbents and challengers arrived to try to be the first name listed on the ballot in their respective races for the March 8 primary election.
Robert Watson, who previously served on the Vermilion County Board for eight years, was one of the first two candidates to file his challenge to one of two seats in County Board District 5. The other: District 5 incumbent Orick “Corky” Nightlinger.
Watson said he’s taken classes at the University of Illinois that indicated being the first name on the ballot can translate into 8 percent more votes on Election Day.
“So it’s a little advantage and every advantage you get when you have to run against incumbents is a great thing,” he said after filing Monday morning.
While being the first name voters see is a plus, other candidates view the idea of being among the first to file as an indicator of their dedication to the elected office.
Steve Fourez of Fairmount and Frank Wright of Danville filed to run in county board Districts 3 and 6 respectively. For Fourez, the decision is to return after losing the board seat in the 2012 election while Wright is a first-time challenger in District 6.
“I think it’s really important to show the people that I’m going to be representing that I’m in it for them and I mean business,” Fourez said Monday. “If I was to turn in my paperwork at the last minute, they would see that maybe I’d be a procrastinator. But being as I’m first, they see that I’m here and I’m always going to be first to take care of the business in District 6 and Vermilion County.”
Fourez agreed, noting that he’s been among the first to file each year he ran for county board.
“If you wait until the last minute, I think it kind of reflects on how committed you are to doing the job and what you’re wanting to do,” he said. “If you’re committed to do it, you ought to be here ready to turn things in when it’s time to do it.”
This is the second largest group to turn out on the first day of filing for a county election, according to County Clerk Lynn Foster. The 2012 election — in which all county board seats were up as well as half of the county offices — also brought out a large group on the first day.
Foster said two Democrats filed at 8 a.m. for seats in District 5 and District 7, meaning a lottery will be conducted to determine who is listed first for each seat. The county has until Dec. 11 to conduct a lottery for simultaneous filings the first day and the last hour of the final day.
The deadline to file any objection to election petitions is Dec. 9. One petition was contested and eventually removed in the 2012 election.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, to turn in their petitions to run for office.
Here are the filings received in Danville and, for certain offices, in Springfield as of the end of Monday:
U.S. Representative, 15th District — Incumbent John Shimkus, R-Collinsville; challenger Eric Thorsland, D, Mahomet
State Senator, 51st District — Incumbent Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet
State Representative, 102nd District — Adam Brown, R-Champaign
State Representative, 104th District — Chad Hays, R-Catlin
State Representative, 106th District — Josh Harms, R-Watseka
Judge, Fifth Judicial Circuit — Democrats Ed Barney of Westville and Karen Wall of Danville; Republican Thomas O’Shaughnessy of Catlin
County treasurer — Incumbent Sue Stine, R-Catlin
County clerk — Incumbent Lynn Foster, D-Danville; challenger Cathy Jenkins, R-Georgetown
Sheriff — Incumbent Pat Hartshorn, R-Danville
County Board District 1 — Incumbent Todd Johnson, R-Hoopeston
County Board District 2 — Incumbent Mike Marron, R-Fithian
County Board District 3 — Incumbent David Stone, R-Catlin; Challenger Steve Fourez, R-Fairmount
County Board District 5 — Incumbents Orick “Corky” Nightlinger, D-Danville, and John Criswell, D-Tilton; Challengers Robert Watson, D-Tilton, and Chad Turner, D-Danville
County Board District 6 —Challengers Frank Wright, D-Danville, and Wesley Bieritz, R-Danville
County Board District 7 — Incumbents Mike Dodge, D-Danville, A.J. Wright, D-Danville; Challenger Craig Golden, R-Danville
County Board District 8 —Incumbent Ivadale Foster, D-Danville; Challenger Brad Wheeler, R-Danville
Two seats are open in County Board Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 and one seat in Districts, 2, 4, 6 and 8.