Lester: Former Daily Herald paperboy now state elections chief

"Only in America," Arlington Heights native Bill Cadigan laughs, "can one go from being a Daily Herald paperboy to the head of the State Board of Elections."

Cadigan, who went on from his paper route as a Thomas Middle School student to become a Winnetka lawyer active in Republican politics, was sworn into the chairman's role July 3 in Springfield, with son Billy by his side. The move comes at a crucial time as Illinois elections are nationally watched, both for the record-breaking amounts of money being spent in the 2018 governor's race and the recent hacking of the state's voter registration database by Russians.

Initial focus

Cadigan plans to make cybersecurity a focus of his 2-year term. He also says he plans to use a recent Daily Herald series about the high numbers of uncontested municipal elections as a jumping-off point to "make our website and materials much more user-friendly and to make it easier for people that want to serve."

The Daily Herald's "Our Dwindling Democracy" series found barely 30 percent of the hundreds of suburban races in the April 4 elections were contested. That's down from about 45 percent of races contested in local elections eight years ago.

"The process of forming a committee, what the (fundraising) thresholds are ... that's just as much a barrier as cynicism and lack of civility," Cadigan said.

Goldberg moves on

Skokie native Richard Goldberg, GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's chief of staff since January 2016, is leaving his post to head back to the beltway, where he says he'll work on foreign relations policy, national security and consulting. Goldberg was previously a deputy chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park. In the governor's office, he'll be replaced by the Illinois Policy Institute's Kristina Rasmussen of Springfield, a move that signals a major ideological right turn in the governor's office. We wish Goldberg and his wife, Roxy, who is a teacher, well.

Another challenge for Roskam

Carole Cheney of Aurora, formerly a top aide to Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville, is the latest Democrat to formalize a bid against Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton in the 6th Congressional District. She will run in the March primary against Lake Zurich resident Amanda Howland, who lost to Roskam in the 2016 general election, former Naperville School District 203 board member Suzyn Price and Kelly Mazeski, a Barrington Hills plan commissioner.

Brady's confirmation

A new Illinois Senate Republican has been chosen to replace GOP Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, but when the new role will be formalized for Bill Brady of Bloomington is anybody's guess. With the Illinois legislature out until veto session in the fall, Senate President John Cullerton's spokesman John Patterson says he's "not sure" when the swearing-in will take place. Radogno announced last month she is leaving the state Senate after 20 years.

A dream come true

What an awesome moment for Wheaton resident Nino Polizzi, who was invited up on stage to play with Dispatch at its July 1 concert at Northerly Island. Polizzi had posted a cover of the band's single "Only the Wild Ones" on YouTube, which sparked the band's interest. Watch it at


Thanks to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which hosted me as a panelist on its "Illinois: A State Divided" discussion Wednesday, along with WTTW's Amanda Vinicky, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute's John Jackson, Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan, Todd Maisch of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Karen Ford of South Side Weekly.

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