Two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Kane County clerk have differing views of the clerk's office's role.
Challenger Mark Davoust believes the clerk's office should not only register people to vote, but also must encourage them to care about local elections.
Incumbent Jack Cunningham believes political parties are mainly responsible for getting people to register. He says his office has done a good job of ensuring fair, accurate elections with relatively quick results and of promoting early voting and registration opportunities.
Davoust, 54, of St. Charles, has served as a Kane County Board member since 2004. He says he brings new energy and a fresh perspective to the post and he wants to the clerk's office to promote voter registration and stress importance of voting year-round.
"My goal would be to have a relentless message coming out of the clerk's office, not just get the flags and banners out each election cycle," Davoust said. "Every social organization you can find, every venue that will allow you to have a moment of their time ... it has to be a message that is out all the time."
Cunningham, 75, of Aurora, has been clerk since 2002 and didn't face a Republican challenger in the 2010 primary. He coasted to his third term in November 2010, taking 64 percent of the vote and more than double that of challenger Mavis Bates.
Cunningham said it is the responsibility of political parties and their precinct committeemen to register voters.
He pointed to the success of early voting in Kane County, where nearly one in four voters hit the polls early in the fall 2012 election. He also noted the clerk's office registered some 400 high school students who are now 17 but will be 18 by the election under a new state law.
"I'm running on my qualifications, experience and my accomplishments," Cunningham said. "Most of the voter registration today is voter to voter. The job of registering rests with the parties themselves also."
Davoust still doesn't think that's enough. He called reaching out to schools a "good start" but vowed to do more if elected.
"I feel passionately about the idea (that voters) need to be reminded, educated, prodded even," he said. "I feel it's absolutely the responsibility of the clerk's office to be out there saying, 'This matters. Be part of it. Be whichever part of it you want, be whichever party you want, but come be a part of it.'"
The winner of the March 18 primary will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.
No Democrat has filed yet to run.