Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham will have competition from within his own party during his 2014 re-election bid as county board Member Mark Davoust announced this week he will try to unseat the longtime clerk.
Cunningham has served as clerk since 2002. Davoust said the office needs new energy to address the problem of low voter turnout that has plagued recent elections.
"You look at the recent 11 percent to 13 percent voter turnout and say there's got to be something more we can do about that," Davoust said. "I want the opportunity to reach out to the various elements of the community and address whatever fears or reluctance people have to vote."
Davoust said he will especially target Spanish-speaking voters in an effort to repair any hostility stemming from the need for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and mandate more bilingual election judges at Kane County polling places following a 2007 lawsuit.
"It was unfortunate that providing that service to those voters required a federal mandate before it was accomplished," Davoust said. "I will not wait on mandates."
Davoust is a nine-year veteran of the county board from St. Charles. As such, he's worked with Cunningham for a long time. But Davoust is not up for re-election to the county board until 2016. That makes a run for clerk a safe proposition for Davoust. Win or lose, he'll still be in Kane County politics while also testing his countywide appeal. It's a strategy Cunningham recently utilized in seeking a Congressional seat in the middle of his current term. He unsuccessfully ran against Republican Judy Biggert in the primary for the new 11th Congressional seat now represented by Democrat Bill Foster.
Cunningham said he has no ill feelings toward Davoust.
"Mark is a nice guy," Cunningham said. "I have nothing bad to say about him. He's got his own agenda, but I'll be running primarily on experience and my qualifications."
Cunningham cited the modernization of all the voting equipment since he's been clerk. He's also made efforts to reduce lines on Election Day with a mobile polling place and emphasis on early voting.
"Competition is part of the business," Cunningham said. "People have a right to run. Let the games begin."
The clerk's race won't be the only county contest with Republican rivalry. The race for Kane County Sheriff will also feature at least two Republicans: Kevin Williams and Don Kramer. Williams is currently a lieutenant in the department. Kramer is a former lieutenant.
The primary is next March.