The race for the Republican nomination in the March 18 primary for Kane County Clerk pits a three-term incumbent against a County Board member in the midst of his third term.
Incumbent Jack Cunningham, an Aurora resident who has been clerk since 2002, said he wants to use his education and experience to serve at least one more term.
Mark Davoust, a St. Charles resident, has been a County Board member for nine years. His current term does not expire until 2016. Davoust said he wants to be the county clerk to bring a fresh attitude to the office.
The county clerk’s office is responsible not only for elections, but also for maintaining vital records of births, deaths and marriages, a well as the tax extension records of levies of each local taxing body.
“I’ve always been involved in public service,” Cunningham said. “I enjoy public service, and I would like another term. I am running on my qualifications and accomplishments. I brought this office into the 21st century. It is one of the most complex in the country.”
Cunningham said under his leadership, election equipment went from punch cards to a totally electronic system that is one of three in the state. The other two are Peoria County and the city of Peoria.
“We’re known as one of the forefront leaders in election technology,” Cunningham said.
Davoust said the clerk’s office under Cunningham has “taken an approach of being reactive instead of proactive.”
“I believe the clerk’s office is ... more than managing elections and data,” Davoust said. “There is responsibility to be actively pursuing voter registration and voter turnout. I think it is essential for the success of our local government system of democracy to have the most people involved [in voting] as possible.”
Davoust said, as clerk, he would pursue voter registrations and voters more actively.
“Term limits in today’s political world, the answer for a long time is, ‘We have term limits. They are called elections.’ That can be true, but not when you have turnouts that are barely reaching [percentages in] double digits.”
Davoust said rolling out the voter mobile and banners and flags prior to elections is not enough.
“There has to be a message coming out all the time, a relentless pursuit of educating people, informing people, encouraging people, prodding people to come out and vote,” Davoust said.
Davoust said it is the clerk’s job to push the message, at least to boost voter turnout to be more than 50 percent.
“Seventeen-year-olds can come to vote in the primary if they will be 18 by Election Day in November,” Davoust said. “There has to be education information in our schools about local government and responsibility and privilege of voting.”
Cunningham countered that with the Motor Voter Act, more people register to vote when they get their driver’s licenses.
“We already have deputy registrars. All the precinct committeemen take that training. We work with the League of Women voters,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said it’s the clerk’s job to have fair and accurate elections.
“And that’s what we’re doing, having secure elections,” Cunningham said.
The winner of the primary will run in the general election on Nov. 4.