Cook County's Secret Primary Election
The Unannounced Election
Cook County voters in the March 20th primary election are going to see something unusual on their ballots: an election with no candidates, just a blank ballot line and the option to cast a write-in vote.
It will likely take most people by surprise, since the Cook County Clerk's office, the election authority for county-wide races in Cook County, has issued no public statements, voter notices, press releases, or other information regarding the ballot line.
Established political parties received notification of a special write-in-only primary via their central committees, less than a week before the filing deadline for write-in candidates and less than a month before the start of early voting. Other than that legally-mandated notification, the Clerk's office has been silent on the subject.
So, What's the Secret Election For?
The write-in-only ballot line is for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board of Commissioners, the nine-member elected body that oversees Cook County's billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded wastewater treatment and flood abatement agency.
For more than twenty years, the MWRD Board of Commissioners has been an all-Democrat body, and a functional rubber-stamp on all private contracts put before the Board for approval.
Termed the "Unexpired 2-Year Term (Vacancy of Bradford)" on March 20th primary ballots, the write-in-only primary will determine which candidates are listed on the general election ballots in November for an open seat on the MWRD Board of Commissioners, left vacant by the December 2017 death of sitting Commissioner Timothy Bradford.
The Only Opposition Party
The Illinois Green Party is the only opposition party that has filed candidates for all five MWRD Board seats that will appear on voters' ballots in the November general election: four candidates via the normal primary process, and a write-in candidate, Geoffrey Cubbage, for the "Vacancy of Bradford" write-in-only primary.
Under Illinois law, write-in candidates in a primary election must receive a minimum number of votes to be advanced to general election ballots. The Illinois Green Party will need 1,720 write-in votes cast for Geoffrey Cubbage at the March 20th primary to secure his name on the November ballot.
If the Green Party falls short of 1,720 write-in votes, Democrats may be able to claim the fifth vacant seat on the MWRD Board of Commissioners in an uncontested election. (The Republican Party did not file a write-in candidate for the "Vacancy of Bradford" election.)
Why Does the MWRD Election Matter?
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is a very big, very expensive agency, with two critical areas of responsibility. With an annual budget of over a billion dollars, it's supposed to manage untreated wastewater and prevent homes and streets from flooding—and under all-Democrat leadership, it hasn't been doing a very good job.
The MWRD reported nearly 2,000 separate "combined sewer outflows" in the Chicago Area Waterway System in 2017, which is the technical term for an untreated sewage dump. And basement and street flooding are, of course, a staple of news footage after every heavy rain, to say nothing of the submerged buildings and destroyed businesses seen in the suburbs during recent storms.
The current Board of Commissioners doesn't seem to have answers, other than to spend more money on private contractors for tunnels and reservoirs that haven't solved the problem in the last 40-plus years of the "Deep Tunnel" boondoggle.
Greens on the Board would fight for transparency, fair contracting, and most critically, for large-scale green infrastructure projects that can absorb stormwater before it gets to Cook County's overloaded sewer system.
You can read more about the Green Party candidates for the MWRD and their platform at MWRD-ILGP.org, including a special "Write In to Win!" section with detailed information on voting in the March 20th primary.
Reject Machine Politics—Vote Green on March 20th!
The "secret primary" is Cook County politics in a nutshell: a well-salaried elected post with plenty of opportunities to hand out taxpayer-funded patronage jobs and contracts, sheltered in as many ways as possible from the actual votes of actual taxpayers.
If the vast majority of Cook County voters end up leaving the "Vacancy of Bradford" ballot line blank, because they don't know what it is or who they can vote for, it's hard to see that as anything but the deliberate intent of the Democrat-controlled Cook County Clerk's office.
Voters should stand up to the machine by pulling a Green Party ballot in the March 20th primary and writing in "Geoffrey Cubbage" for the "Vacancy of Bradford" two year term on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board of Commissioners.