ST. CHARLES – One of the Tri-Cities' representatives on the Kane County Board intends to run for a new job next year, challenging for the office of Kane County Clerk.
Kane County Board member Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles, said he is circulating nominating petitions to place his name on the ballot for the March 2014 Republican primary election against incumbent Kane County Clerk John "Jack" Cunningham.
Davoust is in the midst of his third consecutive term on the County Board.
Cunningham, of Aurora, has served as County Clerk since 2002.
The clerk's office oversees a number of functions in Kane County, including overseeing elections in the county outside of the city of Aurora; keeping birth, death and marriage records; and calculating property tax levies for local governments, including school districts, cities and the county itself.
Davoust said, if elected, he would focus on improving elections in Kane County.
Particularly, he said he believes the county clerk could do more to boost voter education and participation.
Davoust lamented elections that produce "turnouts of just 11 percent, 13 percent."
"I've had a front-row seat to the county clerk's office and the elections process here in the county for the last nine years," Davoust said. "You get to election night, and see those kinds of turnouts, it's disheartening.
"I think we can do better."
Among other ideas, Davoust said he believes the county can do more to reach out to "Spanish-speakers" to increase voter participation among the county's growing Hispanic population.
He also said he believes the county should do a better job of selecting polling places.
"We need to select good locations for polling places, and then commit to them long term," Davoust said. "We can't have people voting in different places each time they go to vote."
Davoust stopped short of saying if Cunningham has "done a good job," saying he believes Cunningham "has done a lot of good things through the years."
"But I believe we can, with a fresh perspective and ideas, take it from where it is, to something better."
Cunningham said he intends to officially announce his candidacy for re-election as clerk next week at an event in Aurora.
He said he believes Davoust is "a nice guy" and has "a right to run."
But Cunningham said he intends to base his campaign on his "skills, experience and achievements."
"I'm not going to run against Mark," he said.
He said he, too, would like to see the clerk's office boost voter turnout, but he said such initiatives would require a larger budget, which the county's current financial difficulties likely preclude.
"My job is to provide convenient places to vote, and then to give a fair and honest count at the end of the evening," Cunningham said. "And I think we have the best staff and one of the best operating clerk's offices in the United States."