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Your Vote: A Guide to the Nov. 6 Election

As Oak Lawn voters prepare to head to the polls, Patch pulled together a guide on everything you need to know for Election Day.

After what has seemed like years of campaigning, Election Day 2012 has finally arrived. As you prepare to cast your vote for the main event, you should remember there are a number of local races that are likely to have a big impact.

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In Oak Lawn, the presidential race isn't the only one making news. Local State Rep. Kelly Burke is going for a second term, longtime U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush faces an energetic challenger in a remapped district and a referendum about supposed state pension reform will appear on the ballot. 

Everything you need to know to make a decision about how to cast your vote can be found on Patch. The links that follow will lead you to candidate profiles and positions, news coverage and candidate blogs.

  • Want to talk on election night? Join our live blog at 7 p.m. Tuesday
  • Check on the results of national, state and local races by clicking on the on the live link for each race to our results page. Links will go live starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

LOCAL RACES - COOK COUNTY

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Dorothy A. Brown (D) vs. Diane S. Shapiro (R)

Diane Shapiro (R) is making her second run for the Clerk spot against current clerk Dorothy A. Brown (D).

Brown drew criticism for her alleged mishandling for her “Jeans Day” fund into which court employees chipped in $2 or $3 for wearing jeans on specially-designated days and receiving cash gifts from employees for her birthday and Christmas. Brown claims to have increased revenue by $365 million and wants to expand her "21st century vision for a court system." Judges and attorneys have lamented Brown’s “paper clogged” office and slipshod administrative practices, the Chicago-Tribune said.

Chicago North Side Republican Shapiro, a retired county probation investigation officer with 25 years’ experience in the court system, wants to upgrade and modernize the Clerk’s antiquated, computerized court system. She is also said to have made Internet jokes about certain minority groups, the Chicago Tribune said during an endorsement session.

States Attorney: Anita Alvarez (D) vs. Lori S. Yokoyama (R)

Anita Alvarez (D) has taken a heap of criticism during her first term as Cook County State’s attorney, for subpoenaing Northwestern University students’ grades involved with the Innocence Project, and her opposition to appointing a special prosecutor to reexamine the death of David Koschman, who died of head trauma after a confrontation with a Daley family member.

Lori S. Yokoyama (R) is a civil litigator with impressive credentials, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a law degree from DePaul University. Yokoyama is also a faculty member of DePaul University’s College of Law. She has accused the incumbent State’s Attorney for being the “biggest advocate” for Illinois public corruption and says she will introduce legislation to expand RICO statutes to include public corruption in addition to gang crimes.

Board of Review Dist. 1: Dan Patlak (R) vs. Casey O'Brien (D)

Cook County suburban voters will be casting votes for incumbent Dan Patlak (R), who is to have brought transparency to the clout-heavy and obscure, 3-person board by spearheading the first Board of Review Annual Report and keeping closing contact with the 27 suburban assessor offices, Patlak's website said.

Casey Thomas Griffin (D) has served as the county Deputy Recorder of Deeds since 1999 and calls himself a "pioneer for bringing government agencies into the 21st century." Griffin is challenging the incumbent.

Recorder of Deeds: Sherri Griffith (R) vs. Karen Yarborough (D)

Yarborough is the six-year term state representative for Proviso Township; Griffith is a sales and marketing professional. Both are running to fill the seat left by the retiring Gene Moore.

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COOK COUNTY JUDICIAL CANDIDATES

Nearly 60 Cook County judges are up for retention on the Nov. 6 ballot, in addition there are some contested races to fill judicial vacancies. Here are some resources for voters with recommendations from various bar groups:

  • VoteForJudges.org offers non-partisan information on all the judicial candidates. The Chicago Appleseed Fund, the creator of the website, does not recommend or not recommend judges, but provides research-based evaluations from over a dozen bar associations.
  • The Chicago Bar Association provides a pocket guide of its judicial recommendations and non-recommendations, as well as a phone app to bring into the voting booth.
  • Illinois Bar Association provides summaries and full judicial evaluations. This information is also shared on VoteForJudges.

Voters are permitted to bring endorsements and sample ballots into the polling booth.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Republicans are pushing hard to make House Speaker Mike Madigan and the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly an issue. In the Chicago Southland, the GOP challengers are a mix of first-time office seekers and candidates who've battled the Democratic Machine in the past.

18th Senate: Bill Cunningham (D) vs. Barbara Bellar (R)

Currently a 35th District state representative, Bill Cunningham has kept a low profile in this race. He didn't return requests for interviews or fill out a candidate questionnaire to explain his positions. But Barbara Bellar, a doctor who once intended to pursue life as a Roman Catholic nun, has been out and about a lot. She gained notoriety with an anti-Obamacare speech that drew 3 million views on YouTube, and a local newspaper columnist questioned whether she'd been forthright about whether she could call herself a former nun if she'd never taken vows. 

More headlines in this race: 

  • Bellar: President Decides When You Die Under 'Obamacare'
  • State Senate Candidate Barbara Bellar's YouTube Video Tops 1 Million Views
  • 18th State Senate Candidate Respond to 'Obamacare' Question
  • Local State House and Senate Candidates Square-Off
  • State Senate: The Tribune Tells You Who to Vote For

36th House: Kelly Burke (D) vs. Bob Shelstrom (R)

Kelly Burke aims for a second term as she takes on Republican challenger Bob Shelstrom. Burke won in 2010 with 71.3 percent of the vote. She said she was too busy to answer the Patch questionnaire despite repeated requests. Shelstrom has been a vocal opponent of the Cook County Democratic machine and has been a frequent critic of government spending in his native Palos.

Read:

  • Southland Republican Jumps Into 36th District Race
  • Local State House and Senate Candidates Square-Off
  • State House: Endorsements with a Chuckle and a Shake of the Head

REFERENDA

State Constitutional Amendment: Also on the ballot is an amendment to the state constitution that would require a three-fifths majority for any government body to change its pension system. Both conservative and liberal lobbying groups have lined up against this amendment, saying it's bad policy and doesn't address the problems with the state's pension burdens.

Oak Lawn Electrical Aggregation: Oak Lawn voters will decide on a binding referendum giving the Village of Oak Lawn the authority to negotiate lower electricity rates with an alternative energy supplier for residential and commercial customers who have not opted out of the program. The referendum reads:

  • Shall the Village of Oak Lawn have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such a program?

For more information on the pros and cons of municipal electrical aggregation, visit the Citizens Utility Board.

U.S. CONGRESS

Two congressional races in northern Illinois are must-watch contests. Democrat Tammy Duckworth's bid to unseat Rep. Joe Walsh, a Tea Party favorite, in the north suburbs has drawn a lot national attention and out-of-district financial support. And in the west suburbs, Rep. Judy Biggert is trying to stay in the House and fend off Bill Foster, a former one-term congressman trying to return to Congress, but the latest polling shows them in a dead heat.

Closer to home ... 

1st District: Bobby Rush (D) vs. Don Peloquin (R)

Redistricting has added more Republican territory to 1st District, but Democrats drew the map and Bobby Rush still has a significant stronghold of inner-city voters--including several blocks between Pulaski Road and Cicero Avenue in Oak Lawn. Blue Island Mayor Don Peloquin, who owns a New Lenox funeral home, sees an opportunity here and has been waging a grassroots campaign.

The latest headlines in this race include:

  • Area Mayors Make Calls Supporting Peloquin for Congress
  • People for Peloquin blogs on Patch

3rd District: Dan Lipinski (D) vs. Richard Grabowski (R)

Dan Lipinski took office in 2005 when he succeeded his father as the 3rd District's congressman. Known as a moderate Democrat, Lipinski trounced his Republican challenger in 2010. Rich Grabowski, a Hometown native and materials supervisor, is a favorite among area Tea Party groups and easily one a three person Republican primary race. 

More Race News: 

  • Lipinski Reflects on Lessons His Father Taught Him
  • Mr. Grabowski Wants To Go To Washington
  • Grabowski Grabs GOP Nod for 3rd District in Decisive Win
  • Lipinski Wins Landslide Primary Over Baqai

VOTING INFO:

Contact Numbers

Cook County Clerk David Orr's office will be fielding calls from voters now and until the polls close on March 20. The Clerk's Office provides the following phone numbers:

  • Election information, polling place location and other voter services (automated directory), 312-603-0906
  • Voter verification, 312-603-0239
  • Election information (Spanish), 312-603-6767
  • Election information (Chinese), 312-603-6769
  • Election information (Polish), 312-603-6770
  • Disabled voters (hospitalized voters, curbside voting), 312-603-0929
  • TDD (hearing impaired), 312-603-0902

Reporting Voter Fraud

To report voter fraud and other irregularities, call the Cook County Clerk's office at 312-603-0236.

Sharpie November 05, 2012 at 07:53 PM
MUST read: "Support for Kill List and NDAA make Obama and Romney Unfit for Office" http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/reawakening-liberty/2012/nov/2/support-kill-list-and-ndaa-make-obama-and-romney-u/ Make a special note to watch the Free and Equal Election Debate between third party Presidential candidates, Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Dr. Jill Stein (Green) to be aired tonight on Monday evening, Nov. 5th from 9:00 - 10:30 pm Eastern Time. Perform a worthwhile civic duty, and be certain to listen in on this historic debate so that you can make an informed decision on voting day. Third party candidates who will be on the ballot in most states deserve to be heard. It is a violation of the 1st Amendament rights of third party candidates, and a violation of the free speech rights of every American, for their voices to be silenced. http://freeandequal.org/?v=1

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