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Bride: Write-In Peoria Mayoral Campaign Likely A First

Peoria County Election Commission
Peoria County Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride testifies at a board hearing on challenges to nominating petitions for mayoral candidates on Tuesday.

Peoria voters likely will have the opportunity to write in a candidate when voting in February’s mayoral primary--but not just any name they choose.

“People think they can write in whoever they want. They can, but the votes will only be counted for people who are certified write-ins,” said Tom Bride, executive director of the Peoria County Election Commission (PCEC). “So once you file a declaration of write-in, then you're a certified write-in of votes cast for you will actually count.”

Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown plans to register a write-in campaign after his name was removed from the ballot when the PCEC board upheld a challenge to his nominating petition. Bride said a check of records dating back to 2005 showed no registered write-in mayoral candidates.

“I’m ready to bring some energy and passion to the City of Peoria,” said Brown, “so that we can become such an incredible place economically, with our safety, with our sense of community and our budget that businesses will want to come here and people will not only want to stay, but more residents will want to move here.”

Bride said that while votes for unregistered write-in candidates will not count, variations on a registered candidate’s name would not invalidate the vote.

“The law allows for intent. So if it's ‘Chuck Brown’ or ‘Charles Brown,’ if the election judges can determine who the intent was, then they typically allow the vote to be cast for that person,” said Bride, who noted the deadline to register as a write-in candiddate is Dec. 24. “But you can't just randomly write in a name; it won’t count.”

Couri Thomas also was removed by a nomination challenge that was upheld at a hearing on Tuesday; the removals will be official Monday when written notifications are finalized. Thomas, who received 45% of the vote in the 2017 mayoral race, has not indicated his future plans. Bride said the candidates would have the option of appealing the decision to the Circuit Court.

Brown, the pastor of Victory Christian Church, said he has created more than 2,000 jobs in the city as the founder of the Central Illinois Community Job and Resource Fair. He touted his existing relationships with Ameren Illinois, Caterpillar, OSF HealtCare and UnityPoint Health and his work on the RiverWest development among his qualifications.

“There’s a lot more to know about me as opposed to just being a pastor, which is an honor. But I do have skills and the background to take on the task,” said Brown.

Five names remain on the ballot for the Feb. 23 primary: Rita Ali, Andres Diaz, Jim Montelongo, Sid Ruckriegel and Chama St. Louis. The two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary advance to the April general election. Incumbent Mayor Jim Ardis has decided against seeking a fifth term.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.