Arien Ahmadpour was outside the Will County Office Building at 3:30 a.m. Monday, making him first among candidates getting a head start on the 2024 election, even though he had to put up with temperatures below freezing in the pre-dawn hours.
“My heart was warmed by democracy,” Ahmadpour said.
It was the first day to file petitions to run in the March 19 primary and the Nov. 5 general election in which voters will choose county, state and federal offices, including the next president of the United States.
On the local level, candidates for precinct committeemen and county offices lined up early looking for top spots on the ballot considered to be an advantage in elections.
Amadpour is running for a precinct committeeman spot in Wheatland Township, which wasn’t really why he was there at 3:30 a.m.
“I volunteered to bring the petitions of several friends,” said Ahmadpour, who also serves as chief of staff for Young Democrats of Will County. “And, I really like the feeling of being first in line.”
Next in line was Enrique Ruiz, a candidate for County Board who arrived at 6 a.m.
“I made him get out of his car,” Ruiz joked, although it was true.
Having seen someone else arrive, Amadpour got out of his car and and stood in the cold outside the Will County Office Building to ensure he could keep his cherished first-in-line position.
He was first in line among a couple of dozen candidates who lined up at the county clerk’s office when it opened at 8:30 a.m.
Candidates have until Monday, Dec. 4 to file petitions to get on the ballot. But those who showed up at 8:30 a.m. Monday either got top spots or will be in a lottery for top spots if multiple candidate file for the same office at the same time.
Six countywide offices will be on the ballot in 2024: county executive, circuit clerk, coroner, auditor, recorder of deeds and state’s attorney.
Incumbent County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and incumbent Coroner Laurie Summers were the only two countywide candidates lined up to file petitions when the clerk’s office opened Monday.
Ten candidates lined up to file petitions for the three Will County Board districts that will be open for election next year: District 6, which is primarily in Joliet; District 7, which includes parts of Joliet and Plainfield; and District 10, which is in an area of the county that includes sections of the cities of Naperville and Aurora.
Two candidates are elected to represent each County Board district in Will County.
Among the the early filers for County Board seats was Herbert Brooks Jr., a longtime Democratic County Board member from Joliet who lost his seat in the last election when he was removed from the ballot after a petition challenge.
Brooks believes his spot on the ballot is safe this time.
“I feel a lot better now,” Brooks said Monday. “I needed 38 signatures, and I got seven times that many.”
Other Democrats on the ballot in District 6 so far are incumbent Democrats Denise Winfrey and Janet Diaz.
Ruiz also filed to run in District 6 but as a Republican .
Ruiz is making his first run for public office. He said his 6 a.m. arrival was motivated in part by political purpose and in part by necessity.
“I wanted to be the first name on the ballot, and I need to go to work,” said Ruiz, who said he was heading to his job as soon as his petitions were processed.
Ruiz was among several candidates making their first run for elected office and coming out early Monday. Standing next to him in line was David Lozano, a candidate in neighboring District 7 making his first run.
“We were the first three,” Lozano said of himself, Ruiz and Ahmadpourt. “I was able to see the line form as everyone else got here.”
Among those was Dawn Bullock, who also is running as a Democrat in District 7 and making her first run for public office.
“I’ve been doing community service all my life,” said Bullock, who is president of the teachers’ union at Plainfield School District 202. “I am retiring. I think this would be a good way to stay in community service.”
Candidates did not waste their time coming out in the cold in search of a top spot on the ballot, said Bill Thoman, a former chairman of the Will County Democratic Party who also came out early to file for his candidacy as a Plainfield Township precinct committeeman.
But being last isn’t bad either, Thoman said.
“There’s a statistical advantage to be first on the ballot and, when there are multiple candidates, to be last,” Thomas said. “When there are three or more candidates, if you can’t be first, people try to be last.”