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Waukegan hopefuls begin primary jockeying

Sam Cunningham Waukegan 1st ward alderman. | Speciall Sun-Times Media

Sam Cunningham, Waukegan 1st ward alderman. | Speciall to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 13, 2013 1:29AM

WAUKEGAN — The dust from the November 2012 general election has just settled, but the first developments in the 2013 municipal elections will start moving forward Monday, when candidates in party primaries can start filing nomination papers to run for mayor, clerk or treasurer.

The process of circulating the nominating petitions can be murky, since packets can be requested from the city clerk’s office by individuals on behalf of someone else without actually naming a candidate or even the office being sought. The word Tuesday was that some eight packets had been taken out since they were first available in late August.

But a number of candidates have gone public with their intentions. On the mayoral side, incumbent Robert Sabonjian confirmed in early September that he planned to run for re-election as an independent candidate, and City Clerk Wayne Motley announced the same week that he’s running for mayor as a Democrat.

Now, 1st Ward Ald. Sam Cunningham announced he will join the Democratic race in what would be his third consecutive run for mayor after falling short in the 2005 and 2009 primaries.

“I am in. I’m in,” Cunningham said, adding his campaign is “going to lay out some things we want to see in Waukegan over the next 20 years for the good of our community.”

Cunningham added that he’s currently meeting “with faith-based leaders in the community and getting support from them (and) some Latino leaders” with an eye on “getting them more involved in our city government, which is something we’ve really lacked over the past 10 to 15 years.”

With incumbent Motley leaving the clerk’s office, the Feb. 26 Democratic ballot will feature outgoing Lake County coroner and former Waukegan police chief Artis Yancey, who said he’s running “because of my love for the city and all the experience that I have with my years of service to the city.”

Yancey added that he plans to run on a ticket with Motley, saying “I think that will be a plus, too, because of his experience in the job. I plan to build on what he’s done as clerk.”

Current Waukegan Park District Board member Janet Kilkelly — who earned 30 percent of the vote as an independent in a four-candidate race for clerk in 2001 — said she plans to run again as a Democrat.

“My goal is to focus on customer service and bringing diversity and gender to (city) leadership,” Kilkelly said, adding that despite employee reductions in clerk staff, she would like to see the city “think about how things can be improved and how we can work together” on covering short-staffed departments.

The Democratic field for clerk will also include People’s Voice Publisher Elroy Reed, a past candidate for mayor in his former residence of North Chicago. Reed said Tuesday that he sees the office as “a bully pulpit to advocate for the people in the community, (so) we can have a voice in the legislative process.”

Reed added that he feels the clerk’s office should practice “full disclosure of all information,” saying “public service should have integrity (to) build and maintain public trust.”

Also on the ballot in the spring will be city treasurer’s post, where incumbent John Schwab announced his re-election bid last month.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Schwab touted a record of transparency for city finances along with bringing a series of delinquent audits into compliance after he took office in 2009.

Also announcing his intention to run for treasurer is Bob Taylor, the former Waukegan School Board member who ran for 8th Ward alderman as a Republican in 2003, finishing third in a three-candidate race.

Candidates with nominating papers in party primaries can start filing with the city clerk’s office on Monday and must do so before the close of business on Nov. 26. Motley said Tuesday that, because he is both the current clerk and a candidate, he has asked corporation counsel Newton Finn to monitor filing when it starts at 8 a.m.

Independent candidates can file from Dec. 17 through Dec. 24 and must be certified by Jan. 3 for the April 9 consolidated election.

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