Looking for Platforms/Positions, Campaign Summaries, Judicial Ratings & Tiny-Position Info to Help Me Cast my Cook County Ballot
October 28, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I’m a resident of Chicago (Cook County, Illinois). I’m very much not a fan of politics, but that lack of enthusiasm doesn’t extend to not voting – I’d still like to make an educated choice when casting my ballot, but without re-engaging in the political blogosphere, etc.. So, could you help me do my due diligence by helping me find websites that would contain the three particular kinds of information you'll see me describe inside/after the break?

First, I’m looking for a comprehensive but politically neutral ‘briefing’ on candidates. Yes, I'd like at a bare minimum their stand on the issues/platform. But, also, it'd be good to read/know a brief summary of the highlights of their campaigns -- because, well, I don’t want to vote for a candidate that kept kicking dogs on the campaign trail, even if dog-kicking is not on their official platform statement.

Second, I know a number of civic groups rate judicial candidates for voting/non-voting and existing Cook County judges for retention/non-retention. Ideally, is there a website that concatenates the ratings in one place? If not, does anyone have a master list of the organizations offering ratings?

Finally, when it comes to small, extremely unglamorous positions that are nonetheless on the ballot (such as, but not just, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District positions), etc., etc., is there a good source that describes the differences between candidates for those positions, so that it’s not just “eenie meenie minie moe” for the smaller ones?
posted by Fizzgig to Law & Government (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Voteforjudges.org is a good resource for the judicial retention elections. (They used to have a printable table that aggregated all of the endorsements and evaluations, but I'm having trouble finding it.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:28 AM on October 28, 2010


Nearly all bar organizations, the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times have found Judge Susan McDunn and Judge Dorothy Jones to be Not Recommended for retention.

Voteforjudges.org compiles the recommendations of the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Alliance of Bar Associations (which is 11 bar associations, including the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Lesbian & Gay Bar Association but not the Chicago Bar Association), the Chicago Bar Association, the Tribune and the Sun-Times. It publishes a matrix only of the Alliance of Bar Association recommendations (It's a pdf, linked at voteforjudges.org, under the bold heading for the Alliance of Bar Associations).

To be retained, judges need a 60% approval rating in the retention election. Judges sit for retention every 6 years. Since the 1960s, there have been 14 judges that have not been retained in Cook County and there have been no judges that have been not retained since 1990.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:04 AM on October 28, 2010


Great – it sounds as if the question of judicial candidates/retention is well taken care of with that website, and I thank you both.

Can yourselves or anyone else recommend resources regarding the other two issues?
posted by Fizzgig at 9:29 AM on October 28, 2010


Finally, when it comes to small, extremely unglamorous positions that are nonetheless on the ballot (such as, but not just, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District positions), etc., etc., is there a good source that describes the differences between candidates for those positions, so that it’s not just “eenie meenie minie moe” for the smaller ones?

The IVI-IPO (Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization) has candidate questionnaire responses for pretty much every race here. Obviously, this doesn't really address the campaign behavior you mentioned. The IVI-IPO also has endorsements and a sample ballot, although as an organization it's not what it once was, and recently it seems like it's been pretty easy for well-organized candidates to stack the vote at endorsement sessions with their own supporters, so I would take those with a large grain of salt.

Northside Democracy for America is another group which endorses Chicago candidates at all levels. It meets one Monday a month for dinner and it has been really good about getting a ton of candidates out to pitch the group for endorsements throughout the primaries and the general election. They've had pretty much every candidate for MWRD, for example. For me, going to these meetings has been the best way to feel informed about the downticket races. It's often much easier to get a sense for who's clueless and who's not when they're taking questions in person. This might be more political involvement than you'd like, but if your politics tend toward those of this group (mostly independent Democrats of sort that used to be called lakefront liberals), it might be worth it.
posted by enn at 9:33 AM on October 28, 2010


The cook county clerk publishes a site (something like voterinfonet.com) that has sample ballots and asks for candidates to submit a short blurb on why to elect them.
posted by garlic at 6:26 AM on October 30, 2010


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