Early voting for next month’s consolidated primary elections began Thursday, and Peoria County Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride believes turnout may be higher than usual this year.
With five candidates on the ballot to replace Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and four City Council district races with more than two candidates, Bride thinks the crowded fields may generate greater voter interest.
“It’s been a while since we've had a really heavily contested mayoral race and this many heavily contested city council races. We typically haven't had a big turnout in these primaries, but I think we'll be higher because of that,” said Bride, noting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could counteract any increased interest and potentially suppress voting.
In addition to the mayoral and council district primaries, voters also will choose among four people vying to become the city’s treasurer. Additionally, two candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for Peoria Township supervisor.
Bride notes the quantity of candidates in each race poses the potential for close elections, so every vote matters.
“We had a city council race that came down to one vote a couple of years ago, four years ago, and we've had some primaries that have been really, really close,” he said. “So when not a lot of people vote, your vote actually can have a really big impact.”
Election Day for the primaries is Feb. 23, with the top two vote-getters in each race (and the top Democrat in the township race) advancing to the April 6 consolidated election.
Three of the five candidates for Peoria mayor are sitting council members: Rita Ali, Sid Ruckriegel and Jim Montelongo, who chose not to seek re-election as District 4 representative. They are joined in the field by Andres Diaz and Chama St. Louis; Couri Thomas and Chuck Brown are running write-in campaigns. Ardis opted against seeking a fifth term in office.
In the council races, District 1 incumbent Denise Moore faces a challenge from Aaron Chess, Denise Jackson and Alexander Sierra; District 2 councilman Chuck Grayeb is opposed by James Kemper and Peter Kobak; and District 3 representative Tim Riggenbach faces off against Lawrence Maushard and Gale Thetford. Andre Allen, Stephen Kouri and Patricia Melaik are vying for Montelongo’s vacated seat.
The four candidates for treasurer are David Beck, Stephen Morris, Patrick Risen and Brook Petty Sommerville. The Democratic township supervisor primary pits LaTrina Leary against incumbent Frank Abdnour.
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