Home of the 43rd Ward Democrats - Michele Smith Committeeman

featuring political news and community information for 43rd ward residents and businesses -
2527 N. Lincoln Avenue - 773-661-2133

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Volunteer in Democratic Campaigns!

It's petition season and these campaigns would be happy for your help getting signatures. We will also be having a number of Petitioning Parties in our office before the November 2nd deadline. If you want to collect signatures to fulfill the Voting Member requirement we will be notarizing petitions at those times.

Pat Quinn – incumbent Governor http://www.quinnforillinois.com/
Dan Hynes – Illinois State Comptroller http://www.friendsofdan.com/

Lt Governor
Terry Link – State Senator, Lake County Democratic Party Chairman http://www.blogger.com/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLK3BA5/www.link30.org/html/biography.html
Art Turner – State Rep., 9th District, Deputy Majority Leader, Illinois House of Representatives http://www.turnerforillinois.com/

Justin Oberman - 43rd Ward Resident and former U.S. Dept of Transportation official www.obermanforillinois.com
Robin Kelly – Chief of Staff, Illinois State Treasurer, former State Rep. 38th District, Political Science Professor http://www.robinfortreasurer.com/

Raja Krishnamoorthi – former Deputy Illinois State Treasurer, former issues director, Obama for Senate http://www.rajaforillinois.com/
David Miller – State Rep, 29th District, practicing dentist in underserved communities http://www.davidmillerillinois.com/

US Senate
Alexi Giannoulias - Illinois State Treasurer www.alexiforillinois.com/
Cheryle Jackson – President, Chicago Urban League http://www.ourcampaigns.com/CandidateDetail.html?CandidateID=211746
David Hoffman - http://www.hoffmanforillinois.com/

Congress 5th District
Mike Quigley – incumbent http://www.quigleyforcongress.com/

State Representatives
Ken Dunkin – incumbent State Rep., 5th District http://www.repkendunkin.com/
John Fritchey – incumbent State Rep., 11th District http://www.blogger.com/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLK3BA5/www.fritchey.com
Sara Feigenholtz – incumbent State Rep., 12th District http://www.sarafeigenholtz.com/

State Senators
John Cullerton – incumbent State Senator, 6th District, Majority Leader, Illinois Senate http://www.senatorcullerton.com/
Mattie Hunter – incumbent State Senator, 3rd District http://www.blogger.com/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLK3BA5/www.ilga.gov/senate/Senator.asp?MemberID=1065
Kwame Raoul – incumbent State Senator, 13th District http://www.blogger.com/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLK3BA5/www.kwameraoul.com/

County Board President
Dorothy Brown – Clerk of the Circuit Court http://www.friendsofdorothybrown.org/
Danny Davis – Congressman, 2nd District http://davisforpresidentofcookcounty.com/
Toni Preckwinkle – Alderman, 4th Ward http://www.tonipreckwinkle.org/

County Clerk
David Orr – incumbent Cook County Clerk http://www.blogger.com/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLK3BA5/www.davidorr.org/

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District – 3 races
Stella Black – real estate valuation and tax appeals consultant
Todd Connor – business consultant and former investigator with Illinois Inspector General http://www.toddconnor.org/
Mariyana Spyropoulos – incumbent Water Reclamation Commissioner, lawyer http://www.mariyana4cleanwater.com/

County Board Commissioner 10th District
Bridget Gainer – incumbent Cook County Commissioner http://www.bridgetgainer.com/

43rd Ward Democrats - Membership Requirements

The following is an excerpt from the By-Laws of the 43rd Ward Democrats:
Section 1. A Member of the 43rd Ward Democrats shall be any person who supports the principles of the 43rd Ward Democratic Party organization – electing progressive, fiscally responsible Democratic candidates; running fair, well staffed elections; providing educational and relevant information to our voters; motivating and working towards higher voter turnout in the 43rd ward - subject to certification (and decertification) of the Executive Board

Section 2. A Voting Member of the 43rd Ward Democrats shall be entitled to vote in Ward endorsement sessions called by the Committeeman if the member has met the following criteria:
1) A voting member must be registered to vote within the 43rd Ward.
2) A voting member must have attended at least one non-endorsement Ward Meeting in the nine months prior to the vote in question.
3) A voting member must have met the Volunteer Requirement in the last year prior to the vote in question. This requires the member to have participated in or accomplished at least two of the following:
a. Served on an Official Committee or as Precinct Leader of the 43rd Ward Democrats.
b. Volunteered a minimum of 2 hours for an Endorsed Candidate or, when no endorsement has been made, a Democratic candidate listed by the 43rd Ward Democrats Executive Board.
c. Worked an Event for the Organization by helping with planning, set up, sign in and clean up.
d. Volunteered on an Election Day in some capacity for the 43rd Ward Democrats.
e. Volunteered for an Initiative or Referendum approved by the 43rd Ward Democrats.
f. Volunteered at a Community Event staffing tables, gathering signatures or registering voters on behalf of the 43rd Ward Democrats.
g. Volunteered in the 43rd Ward Democrats Office or doing office work in some capacity.

The Executive Board may approve other activities suitable to fulfill the Volunteer Requirement.

Meet Your Congressman...and More!

Please join 43rd Ward Democrats for a truly exciting
and informative evening.

Our Honored Guests
Congressman Danny Davis
Congressman Mike Quigley
State Representative Sara Feigenholtz
State Representative John Fritchey

When & Where
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
St. Vincent De Paul Center
2145 N. Halsted

Mysteries Revealed: Becoming a Judge in Cook County

As Democratic Committeeman of the 43rd Ward, one of my duties is to sit on the committee to "slate" judges and county-wide offices - deciding who will get the official endorsement of the party. So I figured I'd better learn what it's all about before the slating session for the February Primary which takes place on September 10th and 11th.

It turns out that becoming a judge is a very complicated process, and not well understood. It took quite a bit of detective work before we could figure it out and explain it here and in the next couple of newsletters. Read on. . . . So you want to be a judge, do you? If you're an attorney in Cook County, there are three ways to get on the bench.

One: You run for election. There are two paths to get elected: one is to run county-wide - there are 98 seated county-wide judges -and the other is to run in your "subcircuit." In the early 1990's Cook County was divided into 15 subcircuits, or defined geographic areas, where voters elect judges who reside in that specific subcircuit. The idea was to promote greater diversity on the bench. The entire 43rd Ward is in the 8th Subcircuit, where there are currently ten judges.

So you just throw your hat in the ring, right? Wrong. You can't run against an incumbent judge. Once elected, sitting judges do not run for re-election county-wide or in their individual subcircuit. They run for Retention, county wide, every six years. (You've seen that endless part of the ballot where you vote yes or no). Judges are retained if they get 60% of the vote. They are rarely, if ever, removed by the voters. (More on this is a future newsletter.)

Since you can't run against an incumbent, you can only run if there is a "vacancy." When a sitting Judge does not seek retention, retires or resigns, a vacancy is created in that Judge's name. Right now, there are seven vacancies listed for the county-wide judges. There are also Subcircuit vacancies listed, but there is no vacancy in the 8th Subcircuit at this time.

Having to run for a specific vacancy means that if there is more than one vacancy - either county-wide or in a specific subcircuit - you have to figure out which one to run for. The practical result is that candidates often circulate petitions for all, or a number of, the vacancies, and at the last minute, pull all but one set (you can't leave all the sets active, because under the law, you can only run for one office at a time).

Complicated? Yes. But wait, there's more.

Normally, your petitions for the judge are due Nov. 2, 2009, the same date as all other petitions for elected office. But judges get a special extended filing period. If a vacancy is declared at the last minute, between Oct. 12 and Nov. 2, 2009, a person can file petitions by November 23, 2009 and still get on the primary ballot for judge.

So, even if there is no vacancy right now, an alert candidate will keep an eye (and ear) on the rumor mill. Someone could announce their retirement before November 2, and if you are quick, you could still get your petitions in.

So if you want to be a judge, are your chances over if there is no vacancy by November 2? Nope.

Two: Get Appointed First, Run Later. Remember, you can only run if there is a vacancy. But what happens if a judge retires, resigns, or fails to seek retention after November 2, 2009? Under Illinois law, the judge has to announce whether is he is going to seek retention no later than six months before the next GENERAL election. That means if a judge resigns, retires, or does nothing by MAY 2, 2010, 3 months after the Primary, that creates a vacancy.

What happens then? A vacancy created after next February's primary is filled by appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. The person appointed serves out the departing Judge's term until the next Primary election in 2012 when he will have to run for election to fill the vacancy of the Judge he replaced. That person has the advantage of incumbency, which, while not a guarantee, is certainly a help.

So that's it, right? You run, or you are appointed to fill a vacancy and run in the next election. No - there is a third way to become a judge.

Three: Become an Associate Judge. There are 146 sitting "associate judges" now in Cook County. They can serve in exactly the same courts as the other judges (except they cannot try felony cases, unless authorized by the Supreme Court) but they earn about $10,000/year less than full circuit court judges, Associate judges are elected by the other sitting circuit court judges, and are up for "re-election" by the Circuit Court judges every four years.

Case closed - but we just hit the highlights. It's not easy to become a judge, and we have a mixed system of appointment and election. But you notice, in all of this, I haven't talked about whether potential judges are qualified or not, or how slating works. Stay tuned for future newsletters for the answers to these mysteries, and my recommendations for reform.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2010 Primary Election - Petitions Hit the Streets!

Candidates for various offices - County, State and Federal - are beginning to gear up for the 2010 Primary Election. Nominating Petitions for these offices can now be circulated, begining today, August 4th, 2009.

Passing petitions is a time consuming task requiring a lot of door-to-door work from the candidates and the volunteers working with them. While there are very specific signature requirements for a candidate to successfully make it onto the ballot, those signing the petitions sometimes make mistakes - they are registered to vote in another state, they give an old or incorrect address, or other such errors. That is why candidates routinely collect twice, or even three times, the number of signatures required so that they can be assured of having enough "good" signatures.

We are listing the Signature Requirements for the Democratic Candidates seeking to be nominated in the 2010 Primary so that it will be clear that Petition Circulating is a big undertaking.

For United States Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller and Treasurer: At least 5,000 signatures but not more than 10,000.

State Senator: 1,000 signatures.

State Representative: 500 signatures.

Cook County Offices:
County Clerk, Treasurer, Sheriff, Assessor, County Board President: 8,147 signatures.

County Commissioner District 2: 316 signatures.
County Commissioner District 10: 319 signatures.

Member of Board of Review of Coook County: 5,022 signatures.

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District: 7,981 signatures.

Supreme Court Judge (1st Judicial District, if vacancy occurs): 3,417 signatures.

Appellate Court Judge(1st District, if vacancy occurs): 3,417 signatures.

Circuit Court Judge (County Wide, if vacancy occurs): 3,268 signatures.

Subcircuit Court Judge (8th Subcircuit, if vacancy occurs):500 Signatures.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It Matters.

The Illinois campaign finance reform legislation passed in June includes a provision that State political parties will not endorse candidates for statewide office during the next primary season. Pundits claimed that Gov. Quinn demanded the deal so that Mike Madigan couldn't use State party money to support his daughter, though others said it was a political deal for other purposes. *

But we could also look at this as a temporary reform of the primary process - when the party "slates" a candidate, that candidate is the official party candidate, even when there is a primary. You may recall that in our recent Congressional special election, I voted for an open primary, where no candidate would get the nod as the official candidate of the Democratic party.

So, in the face of new restrictions on raising money, which at the outset tends to favor incumbents, we could look at this provision in the law as a means of leveling the playing field a bit, at least at the statewide level.

And that is what I argued at the July 14 meeting of the Cook County Central Democratic Committee when it was proposed that since the state party would not endorse candidates for Governor, Treasurer and the like, the Cook County Democrats should. I suggested that allowing the Cook County Democrats to endorse candidates seemed a circumvention of the state law.

Rising in defense of the measure was Committeeman Todd Stroger (Cook County Board President) who said that the state legislation was "stupid" and that we should endorse statewide candidates "because that's what we do."

Committeeman Mike Krelov from the North Shore announced he thought both Stroger and I were right: he thought the state law was a bad idea, but he also thought that the proposal was a circumvention of the spirit of the state law - so he was going to vote no.

In defense of the measure, I understand that many other county Democratic parties (and Republicans) are adopting similar measures. Plus, the finance restrictions don't start until 2011 (after the next election).

All I know is, the measure was adopted by voice vote, so I can't tell you who in addition to myself voted against it.

It does matter when you question the status quo and stand for principle.

What do you think?

What a Swell Party We Had!

The 43rd Ward Democrats Second Annual Unity Fundraiser was an enormous success! It was a delightful cool summer evening outside and standing room only inside. Thanks to each of you who attended and helped make this a night to remember.

A very special thanks to our gracious hosts Shirley Weese and Donald Young for inviting us into their lovely home.

The crowd was entertained by the sharp musical satire of the Chicago Bar Association's Road Show performers.

We also want to extend Special Thanks to:
Dilly Lilly Flowers - Christine Gorman
Sugarplum Catering - Richard Mott
Catering ◊ Chocolate - Jay Shindler
Leona's Restaurant - Sam Toia
Basil Leaf Café - Sean Tehrani
House of Glunz - Christopher Glunz
Milito's - Tony Milito
Lincoln Park Market - Bruce Longanecker

Many of our local elected officials served as hosts along with numerous friends in the 43rd Ward community.

This is a tremendously important time for the Democratic Party, including those of us in the 43rd Ward. As we approach next year's state-wide elections, with a Primary in February, we are at a real tipping point in Illinois politics. We can make real change at a county and state level.

Thanks to all of you who gave so generously at our Unity Event.