Jacksonville, Florida, is holding its elections on March 19, 2019, with a runoff election scheduled for May 14 if required. Candidates hoping to appear on the ballot have until January 11 to file for election. A total of 24 offices are up for election, including mayor, supervisor of elections, property appraiser, sheriff, tax collector, and all 19 city council seats.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is one of 28 Republican mayors in the 100 largest cities in the United States. Curry was first elected in 2015 when he defeated the first-term Democratic mayor, Alvin Brown, in a runoff election. Curry and Brown faced two other challengers in the general election.
The city council is made up of five at-large seats and 14 by-district seats. Thirteen seats are currently held by Republican members and six are held by Democratic members. During the 2015 election, the Democratic Party saw a net gain of one seat and the council’s partisan balance went from 12-7 to 13-6. A total of 56 candidates filed for the 19 council seats that year, including all nine incumbents who had not yet reached their term limits. A special election for the District 12 seat was held in 2018; Randy White (R) was the only candidate to file for the seat.
The offices of the supervisor of elections, property appraiser, sheriff, and tax collector, are all held by Republicans. With the exception of the tax collector, who was elected in a special runoff in November 2018, all of them were elected in 2015. All four are serving their first terms.
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and the 13th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
The Long Beach City Council in California unanimously voted on January 8 to change the city’s election schedule to coincide with the state’s. Rather than holding general elections in April and runoff elections in June, the city and the Long Beach Unified School District will hold general elections in March and runoff elections in November starting in 2020.
The need to change election dates came from Senate Bill 415, a 2015 law that required local elections to align with the state’s election schedule by 2020 if local election turnout was 25 percent less than the average turnout in previous statewide general elections. Long Beach’s voter turnout for the April 2018 general election was 13 percent, while the voter turnout for California’s statewide general election in November 2018 was 65 percent. Long Beach had an estimated population of 469,450 in 2017, according to the United States Census Bureau.
The cities of Lawndale and Walnut, which both have populations of just over 30,000, also switched from holding elections in April to holding them in November. Other cities such as Norwalk and South Gate, which have populations of 106,084 and 95,430, respectively, switched from holding their elections in the spring of odd-numbered years to holding them in the spring of even-numbered years. Pasadena, which has a population of 142,647, also switched from holding its primary and general elections in odd-numbered years to even-numbered years.
Senate Bill 415 also affected school district election schedules. Over 80 percent of the state’s largest school districts that were scheduled to hold elections in 2017 switched to 2018.
Fifteen seats—four citywide offices, five city council seats, three school board seats, and three community college board seats—were on the ballot in Long Beach in 2018, and eight of those seats had unopposed races. The change in the city’s election schedule extended the terms of current officeholders by five months.
In Wisconsin, more candidates filed to run in six Madison-area school board elections this year compared to their last elections in 2018. A total of 30 candidates have filed to run for the 18 seats on the ballot, which is an average of 1.67 candidates per seat. Primaries for three of the seats will be held on February 19 to winnow the field down to two candidates per seat. The general election will be held on April 2.
In 2018, 19 candidates ran for 15 seats up for election in the same school districts, an average of 1.27 candidates per seat. No primaries were held since no seat had more than three candidates file to run.
The Milwaukee Board of School Directors also has more candidates running than it did last time elections were held in 2017. Eleven candidates filed to run for five seats in 2019, an average of 2.2 candidates per seat. In 2017, eight candidates ran for four seats, an average of two candidates per seat. A primary for one of the seats will be held on February 19. No primaries were held in 2017.
Last week, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was charged with extortion. Burke has represented Chicago’s 14th Ward since 1969 and is the longest-serving alderman in the city’s history.
The FBI filed a complaint in the U.S. Northern District of Illinois court alleging that Burke attempted to use his position as alderman to solicit business for his law firm, Klaner & Burke, from a restaurant owner who was seeking permits for remodeling in 2017.
The complaint also claims that Burke illegally sought a donation for another politician from an executive of the company.
The charges came after the FBI conducted two raids of Burke’s offices, first on November 29 and again on December 13.
Burke said of the charge, “I believe that I’m not guilty of anything, and I’m trusting that when I have my day in court, that will be clear beyond a reasonable doubt.”
On Monday, Burke resigned from his position as chairman of the City Council Finance Committee. He announced that he intends to continue his re-election bid, in which he faces four challengers—Irene Corral, Jaime Guzman, Tanya Patino, and Jose Torrez.
Patino called on Burke to withdraw from the race, saying, “It’s an embarrassment to know that your alderman is doing things for his own personal gain instead of the community’s interest.”
A representative of Jose Torrez said, “We are running on a platform of transparency so we’re not going to allow this to ever have to be an issue in the 14th Ward again.”
Following are reactions from some of the 15 mayoral candidates:
Toni Preckwinkle, who is chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, removed Burke from his role as chair of the Cook County judicial slating committee, announced that she would return all money raised at a fundraiser at Burke’s house in January 2018 during her re-election bid for the Cook County Board of Supervisors, and said Burke should resign from the council.
Preckwinkle also confirmed that she received a donation from the company executive named in the charge against Burke during her Cook County re-election bid. Her lawyer said the donation in question was not accepted but that the campaign made a possible technical error in not reporting the donation and its return last year.
Gery Chico, who was endorsed by Burke, said that he would not accept support from Burke in the mayoral race. He also called on Burke to step down as finance committee chair.
Susana Mendoza called on Burke to step down from the finance committee and said it’s time for someone else to represent the 14th Ward. Bob Fioretti had called on Burke to step down as finance committee chair as well, and Bill Daley also said the ward needs a new alderman.
Paul Vallas called on Preckwinkle, Mendoza, Chico, and Daley to withdraw from the mayoral race because of connections with Burke. Vallas also proposed rotating committee chairmanships on the city council.
Willie Wilson said Preckwinkle should resign as Cook County Board president and that, as mayor, he would use a citizen advisory committee to select city council committee chairs as opposed to allowing the city council to select them.
Lori Lightfoot called for Burke to resign as finance chair following the first raid of his offices and, since the charge, said Burke should resign from the city council.
Amara Enyia stated, “A lot of the other candidates have significant ties to Alderman Burke and therefore ties to corruption, so the question Chicagoans will be asking is can we trust individuals that came out of that same establishment.” She also called for Burke to resign from city council.
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On Monday, activist Ja’Mal Green withdrew from Chicago’s nonpartisan mayoral race, bringing the candidate field to 17.
In his withdrawal announcement, Green said his campaign lacked sufficient resources to continue amid a petition challenge launched by candidate Willie Wilson’s campaign lawyer. The challenge stated that Green didn’t have the required number of valid signatures (12,500) to qualify for the ballot.
The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners was in the process of considering the challenge at the time of Green’s withdrawal.
Last week, three candidates were disqualified from the ballot. Richard Mayers and Conrein Hykes Clark did not have the required number of valid signatures, and Sandra Mallory filed her paperwork incorrectly, an election board spokesperson said.
Petition challenges against five candidates are still being considered by the board: Dorothy Brown, Catherine Brown D’Tycoon, La Shawn Ford, Neal Sales-Griffin, and Roger Washington.
A total of 21 candidates initially filed to run in the mayoral race, left open after incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in September that he would not seek re-election. The election is on February 26, with a runoff on April 2 if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in February.
Chicago is the third-largest city in the U.S. by population.
The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners announced Thursday that three mayoral candidates had been disqualified from the ballot.
Richard Mayers and Conrein Hykes Clark did not have the required number of valid signatures (12,500), and Sandra Mallory filed her paperwork incorrectly, a board spokesperson said.
That leaves 18 candidates in the mayoral race.
Several remaining candidates are facing challenges to their candidacies that are being considered by the board: Dorothy Brown, Catherine Brown D’Tycoon, La Shawn Ford, Ja’Mal Green, Neal Sales-Griffin, and Roger Washington.
Since December 19, Toni Preckwinkle has dropped challenges against Lori Lightfoot and Susana Mendoza after they were each found to have the required number of valid signatures during the board’s record exams.
Earlier this month, Jerry Joyce withdrew his challenge of Bill Daley, and Paul Vallas withdrew his challenge of Garry McCarthy.
In 2019, Ballotpedia will cover 31 mayoral elections across the 100 largest cities by population in the United States.
As of December 2018, the mayors of 60 of the country’s largest 100 cities are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 28 are affiliated with the Republican Party, seven are independents, four have unknown party affiliations, and one seat is vacant. Of the 31 seats up for election in 2019, 20 current officeholders are affiliated with the Democratic Party, six are affiliated with the Republican Party, three are independents, and two are unknown.
There are a number of top races happening between January and May. A special 2018 mayoral election in Phoenix will conclude with a runoff on March 12, 2019. The previous mayor was affiliated with the Democratic Party. Incumbent mayors may face challenges in Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Denver, and Philadelphia. There are open seats up for election in Tampa, Kansas City, and Dallas.
There were 25 mayoral elections in 2018. Democrats saw a net loss of one seat—in Lexington, Kentucky. Republicans saw a net gain of one seat—with gains in Lexington and Virginia Beach and a loss in Garland, Texas (which was won by an unaffiliated candidate).
Recall efforts targeting local officials in Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin topped Ballotpedia’s list of notable recall efforts in 2018. Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 officials this year. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled and 46 survived the attempt. This year’s recall efforts had a success rate of 63 percent. Recall efforts in 2016 and 2017 both had a success rate of 56 percent, in comparison. City council officials and school board members drew the most recall petitions in 2018. A total of 93 city council officials and 74 school board members were targeted for recall in 2018.
For the first time in three years, a state other than California held the highest number of recall efforts in 2018. Michigan took over the top spot with 65 recall efforts. California (61) and Arizona (27) were second and third in total recall efforts.
The report’s notable recalls included efforts targeting two school boards, four township officials, and two county officials. An example of those efforts was in Saugatuck Township, Michigan. Town Clerk Brad Rudich, Town Treasurer Lori Babinski, Town Trustee Douglas Lane, and Town Trustee Roy McIlwaine were targeted for recall due to their vote to reprimand Township Manager Aaron Sheridan instead of removing him. Another township supervisor, Jon Phillips, had accused Sheridan of threatening behavior involving public officials, abusive language, and indecent conduct. Phillips motioned to have Sheridan dismissed as manager, but no other board members seconded the motion. The board then unanimously approved a motion to reprimand Sheridan and include that reprimand in his permanent personnel file. Rudich, Babinski, Lane, and McIlwaine were all successfully recalled.