Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry announces that she will make blank nominating petition packets available to all Will County candidates starting on Monday, Aug. 19, which is two weeks ahead of the first day candidates legally may begin collecting signatures.

In a major departure from past practice in the Will County Clerk’s Office, Staley Ferry will make packets available early both at her office at 302 N. Chicago Street, Joliet, and online at thewillcountyclerk.com. Her goal is to give candidates more time to prepare their materials so they may start collecting signatures immediately on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The County Clerk’s decision will impact candidates running for countywide offices, the Will County Board, and precinct committee person in 2020.

“I know firsthand that candidates want to hit the ground running on the first day they may legally begin circulating their nominating petitions,” Staley Ferry said. “This major change in the County Clerk office policy will give every candidate more time to organize their petition drives with the necessary documents in hand — printed, arranged, and ready for signing.”

Staley Ferry took office on Dec. 3, 2018. The 2020 Primary and Presidential Elections are the first elections in which she will administer the distribution of nominating petition packets.

The longtime policy in the Will County Clerk’s Office had been to withhold packets from local candidates until the first day of circulation as designated by the State.

“We’re throwing that policy out the window to better serve our local candidates,” Staley Ferry said. “We reviewed the Election Code, consulted with the Illinois State Board of Elections, and talked with our legal experts at the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, and we found that there is nothing in the statute barring us from releasing these materials earlier than Sept. 3.”

The County Clerk warned candidates, however, that they must not obtain signatures on their petitions before Sept. 3. If they fail to follow the rules, they risk having petitions thrown out by the Election Board.

Countywide offices that are up for election in 2020 are: Auditor, Chief Executive Officer, Circuit Clerk, Coroner, Recorder of Deeds, and State’s Attorney. Will County Board Districts that are up for election are: District 3, District 8, District 10, District 12, and District 13. All precinct committee persons stand for election as well in 2020.

The first day to begin filing completed nominating petitions with the Will County Clerk’s Office is Monday, November 25. Petitions may be filed with the County Clerk’s Office on business days through 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 2.