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Libertarians in Greater Peoria area launch bids for select elective offices

Libertarian Peoria County
Libertarian Party of Greater Peoria chairman Donny Henry speaks before a small crowd Thursday, announcing their local slate for November's general election. (Mandatory credit: Alex Menke/WEEK and WHOI via Facebook)

PEORIA — Liberty plays in Peoria. This has been a long-standing slogan for the Libertarian Party of Greater Peoria for several years. In 2020, it brings forth a slate of candidates for both county and state legislative offices in November’s general election.

At least eight candidates are running for state and county offices in November, according to statements during the press conference Thursday.

Party chairman Donny Henry states a legal decision is lowering the signature threshold to one-tenth of the original requirement. Part of the April 23 decision also allows for electronic petitioning with an original filing deadline for early-to-mid August. An appeal from the Illinois State Board of Elections did result in the deadline pushing up to July 20.

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No arguments for another appeal will be heard to overturn all ballot access relief. The court states the reasoning was that arguments wouldn’t be presented until after the filing deadline. Final arguments, with a final court decision, is pending for July 6.

Traditionally, third parties like the Libertarian Party race excessively high ballot access barriers. These barriers in the Illinois Election Code makes things harder for any candidate outside of the two major parties. Henry called the ruling a “game-changer” for getting Libertarian candidates on the ballot this fall.

“We, as the Libertarian Party in Peoria, we looked around and we said, ‘This is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for.’ These great people decided they were going to set up and try to make liberty play in Peoria,” Henry said.

Despite the considerable threshold reduction for 2020, Henry wants to aim to collect up to three times the minimum threshold.

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The ongoing question: “Where’s Keith?”

The Federal court decision is allowing opportunities for candidates like Ken Allison. Allison is running against Republican incumbent Keith Sommer of Morton in House District 88. District 88 covers portions of Tazewell and McLean counties.

“Maybe now, it’s finally time to have an honest discussion about how we feel about the political duopoly that’s really truly keeping us from any kind of measured reform,” Allison said.

Allison states that Sommer is unresponsive and unavailable during the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic crisis. He describes calls he has made to Sommer for assistance. Each call has been met with a message that his voicemail inbox is full. This has prompted him to post a prominent “Where’s Keith” billboard near Morton alongside Interstate 74.

“We need leaders who are willing to walk a mile on broken glass for our people, our communities, our flocks, our families,” Allison said. “We need leaders who place the needs of our fellow Illinoisans over their own political careers. Leaders who actually understand what it means to be a servant, and to serve.”

Allison states that it should be up to elected leaders to be accessible and make others feel comfortable. This should be even more true, even in such trying times like the pandemic.

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Sommer has been in the General Assembly since 1999, one of the longest-tenured Republicans currently in the state.

Allison is a military veteran and business owner residing in a portion of East Peoria that’s within the district. He also currently serves as a board member of the East Peoria CUSD 309 board of education.

If on the ballot, Allison would also face off against Democrat Karla Bailey-Smith of Bloomington.

A look at other Libertarian candidates

In addition to presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen and U.S. Senate nominee Danny Malouf, there was an announcement of three county-wide candidates.

Ann Agama, a hearing specialist for the past decade, is seeking a run for Peoria County Clerk. Joining Agama in county-wide races are auditor candidate Joe Rusch and coroner candidate K. Eric Shaffer.

Chris Buckely and Tom Inman are seeking seats on the Peoria County Board. Buckley and Inman are running in Districts 11 and 17 respectively.

Two candidates are seeking office in neighboring Tazewell County. Kaden Nelms is seeking election as county auditor, while Eric Stahl is running for county board president.

Countywide candidates in Peoria County would need 407 signatures minimum to make the ballot. In Tazewell County, that magic number is 328. Buckely and Inman need less than 25 signatures for their respective county board districts in Peoria County.

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Chad Grimm, the 2014 Libertarian gubernatorial nominee, has set up an exploratory committee to run for House District 92. Democratic Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth currently represents the district. Gordon-Booth does not currently have an opponent in November.

Allison would need 232 valid signatures to earn a spot on the ballot in November. Meanwhile, should Grimm decide to run, he will need 160 valid signatures.

The majority of the races do not have a third opponent in November, resulting in a head-to-head campaign.

All candidates have physical and digital petitions under circulation, although there’s a larger push for digital petitioning.


For more Illinois political news, follow Jake Leonard @JakeLeonardWPMD and Heartland Newsfeed @HLNF_Bulletin on Twitter.

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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.

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