Of all the candidates who made it to the Lake County clerk's office in Waukegan early Monday morning to file paperwork for the March primary ballot, Mary Cunningham probably had the shortest drive.
"I live, like, three minutes away," said Cunningham, a Waukegan Democrat seeking to retain the county board seat she's held since 2002.
Cunningham was at the front of the line when County Clerk Willard Helander opened her office's doors at 8:30 a.m., officially launching the start of the 2014 campaign season.
Twenty hopefuls were lined up in the hall outside the office, their petitions and other paperwork ready to be filed so they can run for seats on the county board and other political posts.
The first day's filings indicate there'll be a few partisan showdowns in the March 18 primary. For example:
• In the treasurer's race, Jeralyn "Jeri" Atleson and David Stolman both filed for the Republican nomination. No Democrat filed.
• In the sheriff's race, John T. Krempotic and Jason Patt both filed for the Democratic nomination. Republican incumbent Mark Curran also filed.
• In the race for the county board's 6th District seat, Republicans Timothy S. Powell and Jeff Werfel both filed. Democrat John R. Wylie submitted petitions, too.
• In the race for the county board's 10th District seat, Republicans Charles "Chuck" Bartels and Terri Voss filed candidate papers. No Democratic candidates have surfaced.
Several of those candidates have prior political experience.
Stolman is a veteran county board member, while Atleson serves on the Fremont Township board. Voss is on Mundelein's village board, and Werfel is a Grayslake trustee.
Krempotic and Powell previously have sought elected office, too.
One of the jobs that will be up for grabs on the ballot in 2014 is Helander's. She's not running again, stepping down after nearly 20 years of service.
Monday's activity marks the last first-day-of-filing session of Helander's career.
"It's bittersweet, but overall it's a good thing," said Helander, a Libertyville Republican. "It's time for me to do something else. I'm past getting up at 4 a.m. (to go to work)."
The other local incumbents not seeking re-election are: county board District 10 representative Diana O'Kelly; county board District 6 representative Pat Carey; and Treasurer Robert Skidmore.
Candidates for state House, state Senate or statewide offices began filing paperwork in Springfield on Monday, too.
The filing period for the primary election ends Monday, Dec. 2.
The general election is Nov. 4.
Local government agencies considering putting referendums on the March ballot have until Dec. 30 to approve questions. They must be submitted to the clerk's office by Jan. 9.