Sunday, February 25, 2024

Johnson County prepares for March primaries

Johnson County will hold its 2014 primary elections March 18 for treasurer, sheriff, clerk, commissioner and other state and federal positions all on the ballot.

Voters will also decide on two ballot initiatives with one regarding electrical aggregation in the county and the other seeking to ban hydraulic fracturing.

“Primaries are notorious for low voter turnout, but its results are largely to decide who will be on the ballot in November,” Johnson County Clerk/Recorder Robin Harper-Whitehead said.  “It’s an important time to vote.”

Harper-Whitehead said specimen ballots are already in their last stages of finalization and that her team is running through procedures and preparing to ensure that the coming election will complete as smoothly as possible.  A public test of the equipment is scheduled for Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.

“You still have time to register and for those 17-year olds who will turn 18 before the general election in November, a new law allows you to vote in the primaries so get registered,” Harper-Whitehead said, adding that the last day to register is Feb. 18.

The coming primaries have state and local candidates vying for a position on the November ballot out knocking on doors, handing out flyers and making their cases to voters.  Johnson County Republicans will select between Kerri Taylor, Brent Williams and James Haney for County Treasurer, while there is no candidate for treasurer on the democrat ballot.  Also running unopposed on the republican ballot are Robin Harper-Whitehead for county clerk and Danell Mott for County Assessor.  Running unopposed in the primaries on the democrat ballot are Jay Merchant for County Sheriff, Matt Donkin for Regional Superintendent of Schools and Jeff Mears for County Commissioner.  The race for Sherriff is full on the republican ballot with Charles Harner, Jeff Jordan and Tim Warren all vying for a chance to run in November as are Roy Street, Billy Fairless and Fred Meyer for county commissioner.

Johnson County voters have an opportunity to meet the all the candidates Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Vienna Diner and again on Feb. 23 at the Eagle Point Bay Association’s Meet the Candidates gathering scheduled for 2 p.m. that day.

The four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Illinois governor are State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.  Johnson County has already heard from the Dillard and Rutherford teams as they both recently held meet-and-greets at the Vienna Dinner asking residents for their votes, as one team is likely to face Gov Pat Quinn in the general election as he faces his lesser-known democratic challenger Tio Hardiman, an educator who seeks to reduce violence.

The coming March primary will also include positions for Illinois’ attorney general, secretary of state and comptroller with candidates on both ballots running unopposed.  The republican ballot will provide a choice for state treasurer while the democrat candidate for state treasurer is running unopposed.  Also running unopposed on both tickets is Illinois’ 118th district representative Brandon W. Phelps.

In federal elections, Republican John Shimkus is seeking to retain his Fifteenth Congressional District seat and he and his democrat challenger, Eric Thorsland, are both running unopposed in the primary.  The lesser-known challenger to Shimkus is from rural Mahomet and currently a research engineer at the University of Illinois and current chairman of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals.  He has blasted Shimkus for his vote last year in favor of shutting down the government.

Absentee voting by mail or by person starts February 6 and runs through March 17 with no excuses needed.  A new law passed in 2010 allows absentee voting for anyone who wishes it.  Grace period voting runs February 19 through March 15 for persons who are not registered or need to change their address or name. They must vote that day in election office or at an Early Voting Site.

Early Voting starts March 3 and runs through March 15 taking place at the following locations: New Simpson Hill School on March 13 from 4-7 p.m.; Autumn Ridge Supported Living Facility on March 4 from 4-7 p.m.; and Goreville Village Hall-on March 6 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Polls are scheduled to open at 6 a.m. March 18 in all 16 Johnson County precincts and will remain open until 7 p.m.  Election night results may be found online at