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Now is the time to commit to being an informed voter

THE ISSUE: Primary field set

OUR VIEW: Plenty of time to make yourself an informed voter

Yes, it’s campaign season again.

Not that we suggest you take any focus away from celebrating the holidays or making New Year’s resolutions or anything, but with the deadline for nomination petitions passed and only a few legal challenges to sort out, it is not too early to start looking ahead to the March primary.

Within only La Salle County, there’s very little to get excited about until the November general election as almost no one running for county office faces a primary challenger. There are three races for Democrats, however, as Lori Bongartz and Vickey Leadingham vie for the county clerk nomination, Nikki Baer and Kyle Fogle square off to challenge incumbent Treasurer Jim Spelich and Doug Trager and Ronald Aubry compete in County Board District 19.

The local state legislative districts are similarly muted for now. There’s two Democrats running in the 76th House District — La Salle County Board Vice Chairwoman Jill Bernal, of Peru, and Lance Yednock, a union organizer from Ottawa — but otherwise the local November ballot is set.

Where it gets interesting then is statewide offices as well as the push to head to Capitol Hill. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for now faces two Republican primary challengers in his bid for re-election, James Marter, of suburban Oswego, and Jaye DeBates, of Granville. On the Democratic side, four candidates filed — Rockford attorney Sara Dady; Neill Mohammad, of DeKalb, a management consultant; Beth Vercolio-Osmund, who works at a "sustainable" farm in Ottawa; and Amy Murri Briel, an Ottawa native who now lives in Joliet. It’s possible petition challenges will knock one or two folks off the primary ballot, but both sides will be contested, and given the national political climate, a lot of attention will be paid to Illinois’ 16th District if respectable polls indicate Kinzinger is vulnerable.

And about those statewide offices — get your pencils and your scorecards ready.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is seeking a second term, but he’ll have to first defeat state Rep. Jeanne Ives, of Wheaton. There are seven candidates on the Democrat side thus far, and many voters already have a strong preference.

Also to be hotly contested is a wide open race for attorney general, as four-term incumbent Lisa Madigan will not seek re-election. Republicans will choose between Gary Grasso and Erika Harold, while Democrats have a field of as many as eight names, provided everyone survives petition challenges.

Those are the races. The stakes are clear. Already we’ve seen some alignments and endorsements as various camps back certain folks, but there’s still a long time between now and March 20. And again, we’re not suggesting  you put politics first and the rest of your life second, but consider this a plea to put the primary vote on your radar, do some research and get ready to vote.

We’ll try to do our part by reporting on each of the candidates so no one heads to the polls uninformed. We’ll respect the voters who don’t wish to affiliate with either party and choose to sit out the actual voting March 20, but hope they’re still paying attention as they look ahead to November.

In 2016, Chicago money literally papered the region with mailers and advertising for major party candidates. (And yes, as a business that sells ad space, we are part of the system.) But you, the individual voter, will always have the right to make up your own mind on election day.

As usual, we encourage all eligible people to register, encourage all those registered to vote, and at this point, a few months out, encourage anyone who cares to commit to participating in hopes of this region being known for housing an educated, informed electorate.

We’re not going to tell you who to support, we just want you to remember that your participation matters and your right to vote is sacred.

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