Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey has a little different agenda, filing for re-election. But he's used to it, as this will be his fourth time trying for the position. The last two times running he's won, he lost the Independent bid in 2001. The mayor's had to collect more support, but he also had more time to work with.
On December 3rd, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a new bill into law extending the deadline for Independents to file their petitions.
"The deadline was Christmas Eve and the legislature changed the law to push it to Wednesday." -says Rockford Board of Election Commissioners Executive Director Ken Harper.
That means candidates' offices and the Board of Election Commissioners got a chance to enjoy the holiday.
"For example, a school board may not have had their main office open for several days before the actual day of Christmas. State law says you have to be open on that last day of filing so if it had been Christmas Eve they would've had to open their offices up and been in their office on Christmas Eve." -says Harper.
Four Independent candidates, including Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey handed in their signatures on Wednesday. The three others are trying for aldermen positions. In the 9th Ward, Teena M. Newburg and Beverly J. Giorgi will challenge incumbent Republican Bill Timm. Democratic 13th Ward Alderman Linda McNeely will run against Independent candidate David J. Lickteig.
"It's a different process, so instead of getting 25 signatures like the major-party candidates have to do to go the primary, to go to the general election to run as an Independent candidate it's actually about 1,200 signatures that have to be validated." -says Mayor Morrissey.
Under Illinois law, the most signatures Morrissey could hand in were around 1,800. His team collected 2,000. It's more work, but he embraces his choice to be an Independent.
"A lot of people don't really understand that we have this partisan system and the handicap it puts on folks who just want to run for office or be involved in the process." -Morrissey adds.
The mayor says there's been a lot of learning in his eight years in office. It's changed the way he now campaigns.
"If you would've asked me back in 2005 when I first got elected whether I thought we'd be dealing with some of the issues we've had to deal with, I would've told you you're crazy. But, the fact of the matter is you have to be prepared for all the issues that come at you and we have a lot of issues, obviously those concerning public safety, officer-involved shootings, and the violence in our community. Top priorities for me, as they were back then, are I'm looking forward to having the discussion with the community about how to solve the city's problems."
The mayor has two challengers running against him in April, Democrat Jim Hughes and Republican Michael Kleen. Since they're running as major-party candidates, their 25 signatures had to be submitted by the end of November.
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