There's an unusual election on Cook County ballots in the 2018 primaries: a special, write-in-only ballot line for "Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner, Unexpired 2-Year Term (Vacancy of Bradford)."
If you're wondering what the heck that means, never fear! We're here to help with an FAQ that explains the office, the circumstances that led to a special, write-in-only primary for it, and the mechanics of voting for your candidate.
What is the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District?
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, or MWRD for short, is a taxpayer-funded government agency responsible for wastewater treatment, flood prevention, and waterway quality testing in Cook County.
The MWRD is run by an elected, nine-member Board of Commissioners. All Commissioners elected to the Board for at least the past 20 years have been Democrats.
Is this election important?
"Metropolitan Water Reclamation District" doesn't sound very glamorous, but it's a huge agency with an annual budget of over a billion dollars—all paid for by your taxes.
The current, all-Democrat Board of Commissioners functions as a rubber-stamp, voting in unison on nearly every measure and handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in private contracts to their own campaign donors.
Flooding remains an obvious problem in Cook County, and anyone who lives near one of the sanitary canals is familiar with the smell of untreated sewage after rainfalls.
So in short—yes, this is an important election! One-party rule has been terrible for the Board. Electing members of other political parties will force the Board to actually serve as a deliberative body and a responsible steward of taxpayer funds.
Why do we have to cast a write-in vote?
In December of 2017, MWRD Commissioner Timothy Bradford died in office, creating the "Vacancy of Bradford."
Since the vacancy was created after the normal filing period, the Cook County Clerk's office decided that Bradford's seat would be on the November general election ballot, but parties would have to run write-in candidates for the seat during their primaries.
The Illinois Green Party has one registered write-in candidate, Geoffrey Cubbage.
Illinois law mandates a minimum number of votes in a write-in primary, which means that Geoffrey Cubbage needs to receive at least 1,720 write-in votes to advance to the November general election ballot.
Are there other candidates to choose from? Is the Green Party candidate qualified?
There is only one registered Green Party write-in candidate, Geoffrey Cubbage. Write-ins on the Green Party ballot for other candidates will not be counted.
As a freelance contractor, Geoffrey Cubbage served as a project analyst and executive reporter for multiple development agencies in Afghanistan, working on major project datasets from organizations like USAID, Oxfam, and Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI). The work involved infrastructure and agricultural analysis similar to the oversight needed at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
As a candidate, Geoffrey Cubbage has also led investigations of campaign finances from previous MWRD elections, revealing that incumbent Democrats on the Board of Commissioners routinely take donations that violate Cook County and City of Chicago ethical standards.
If elected, Geoffrey Cubbage would be a highly qualified and responsible Commissioner of the MWRD.
How can voters cast their write-in votes?
To cast a vote for Geoffrey Cubbage, voters will need to select the "Write-in" option on the ballot line labeled "Vacancy of Bradford," and then write in his full name, "Geoffrey Cubbage," in the space provided.
The write-in votes need to be cast during the primary election, which will be held on March 20th, 2018. Early voting begins on February 8th, 2018. For information on how and where to vote, see our How to Vote page.
Geoffrey Cubbage is certified as a Green Party write-in candidate, so voters will need to ask for the Green Party primary ballot. Writing in "Geoffrey Cubbage" on another party's ballot will not be counted.
Green Party ballots are available at all suburban (non-Chicago) Cook County polling places. The City of Chicago has refused to make Green Party ballots available (legal action has been taken, but it is highly unlikely that a resolution forcing the city to make ballots available will be obtained before Election Day.)
What happens when Geoffrey Cubbage wins the write-in?
Assuming Geoffrey gets enough write-in votes to meet Illinois requirements, he will then be listed on the general election ballots in November 2018 as a Green Party candidate for the MWRD.
That will give the Green Party five candidates for five seats—a chance to take majority control of the nine-member Board of Commissioners in a single election. It's an unprecedented opportunity, but we can't get there without going through the write-in process.
We share everyone's frustrations with this needlessly complicated balloting process. The Green Party does not support the decision of the Democrat-controlled Cook County Clerk's office to hold this election as a write-in-only primary, but we will not cede the seat. We are campaigning hard to be sure of at least 1,720 write-in votes at the primary.
How can I help?
The Cook County Clerk's office announced this election less than a month before the start of early voting. That means an incredibly fast-paced campaign to reach voters, educate them about the write-in, and turn out votes on March 20th!
We urge our supporters to help in as many of the following ways as possible:
Donate - We are seeking to raise at least $3000 to cover the costs of flyers and other canvassing and voter-outreach expenses. All donations go towards direct voter outreach; the ILGP does not use advertising firms or political consultants.
Volunteer - We are in desperate need of Cook County volunteers to help with phonebanking, drop flyers on doorsteps in their neighborhoods, and join us on weekend canvasses. Please sign up for any roles that interest you!
Vote - Pledge to vote at our online form, and turn out on March 20th or cast an early voting ballot with "Geoffrey Cubbage" as your write-in candidate for the "Vacancy of Bradford" ballot line!
With your help, we can have five Greens on the ballot for five MWRD seats this November. Write in to Win on March 20th, 2018!