Hello, early learning advocates — local municipal elections are fast approaching! In this issue of eAdvocate, we discuss some of the key elected positions in cities and municipalities throughout the state and the stakes for children and families. We also discuss a few upcoming events to hold the date for!
While national and state level elections get most of the media spotlight, local elected officials make decisions regarding the local laws, policies, and budgets that affect us the most. Our local public servants leverage our property tax dollars to make significant budgetary decisions that influence our communities— including education reforms, infrastructure enhancements, and many crucial services for public health and safety.
One illustration of the significant and long-lasting impact of local elections can be found in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio made early education a centerpiece of both his election campaigns. In 2017, after being elected to a second term, he announced that the city would offer free, full-day preschool to all 3-year-olds by 2021, building on the success of the city’s preschool program for 4-year-olds.
While bold policies like these will undoubtedly have their fair share of adverse downstream effects and these impacts should be fully understood and debated, decisions made at the city and community level can lead to a substantial improvement in access to high-quality early learning opportunities for children and families throughout the country. This is why it is so crucial to get out and vote in your upcoming elections and encourage others in your community to do the same!
Below is a brief overview of a few of the local elections taking place this month in Illinois. We urge everyone to stay up to date on the elections taking place in your community and the issues that each of the candidates stands for!
On February 26, Chicago voters will cast their ballots for mayor, alderman, city clerk, and treasurer. If a candidate fails to receive 50 percent of the vote in any of these races, a runoff will take place between the top two vote-getters on April 2. Early voting began on January 29 and will continue at select locations until Election Day. With 14 mayoral candidates on the February ballot, it’s unlikely that any one person will get to that 50 percent of the vote threshold (plus 1 needed to win the race). This would mean a runoff between the two top vote-getters would be held on April 2. However, election officials are strongly cautioning those who think, “I’ll just wait and vote in April.” You don’t want to wake up and see your favored candidate missed the runoff by a couple of votes and lost a shot at advancing to April.
New York City’s program was used as an example for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s universal preschool initiative, which will begin its rollout this fall. When Mayor Emanuel announced this plan back in 2018, while he was still thought to be running for another term, mayoral challenger Paul Vallas called for part of the funding to be reserved for prenatal-to-three programs instead of solely focusing on preschool for 4-year-olds. The stakes remain high for determining the path forward for Chicago’s system of programs and services for young children and their families.
Check out WTTW’s 2019 Chicago Voters’ Guide for more information on Chicago’s municipal elections and to get to know some of the candidates on the ballot.
The 2019 Consolidated Primary Election in Peoria will also be held on February 26. Early voting began January 17th and will continue all the way up to Election Day at the in the Election Commission Office. Fifteen candidates are on the ballot to fill the Peoria City Council’s five at-large seats. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis was re-elected to his 4th four-year term as mayor in 2017, and will not be on the ballot in this election. As in Chicago, Peoria’s elected officials have a significant say over how early learning programs are delivered to households throughout the city.
On February 26, Aurora residents will vote to elect officials to fill one at-large aldermanic seat and five district seats. Mayor Richard Irvin and the aldermen from the remaining districts were elected to four-year terms in 2017 and will not be on the 2019 ballot. Candidates for elected municipal offices in the City of Aurora run as non-partisan candidates and file nominating petitions to appear on the February, Consolidated Primary Election ballot. If more than four candidates file to appear on the ballot for a given office, the February primary election must be conducted for that office. If four or less candidates file for a given office, all candidates who file valid nominating petitions appear on the April Consolidated Election ballot.
Join Illinois Action for Children’s Policy and Advocacy team for our annual Spring into Action Conference on April 2-3, 2019. This conference brings together statewide early care and education providers, educators, parents and advocates. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in timely policy-oriented workshops, networking, and visits to the state capitol. Register Here
What: Spring into Action Conference
When: April 2-3, 2019
Where: The State House Inn
101 E. Adams Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701
Stay tuned for additional information on workshops and presenters! As you start planning for Spring into Action 2019, please note there will be limited scholarships available to waive registration costs. For more information, check out the registration website.
Join IAFC’s Public Policy team for a webinar on February 22, where we’ll be discussing our early childhood policy priorities in the 2019 legislative session.
What: IAFC Policy Agenda Webinar
When: February 22 from noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Online (Register Here)
Check out our Remodeled PPA Website! The Partner Plan Act website recently had a makeover. The new website has tools for early childhood collaborations and those doing community-systems work. We hope you will check it out! While you are there, be sure to sign up for the monthly e-newsletters too.