Fall Contest for Champaign County Circuit Clerk Nearly Set


Four Republicans have submitted their name to be the party's nominee for Champaign County Circuit Clerk.

The county's GOP precinct committeemen are expected to select the candidate Thursday night. They will choose between University of Illinois Development Officer Katie Blakeman, real estate adviser Alex Ruggieri, attorney Sami Anderson, and realtor and Champaign County Board member Stephanie Holderfield.

Thursday's vote was prompted when Rick Winkel won the March 20 primary over Holderfield by more than 200 votes. But Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said Winkel, who dropped out of the primary after ballots had been printed, declined the nomination Tuesday. Despite losing last month, Holderfield said she is proven her qualifications strong points the last 10 months.

Acting Champaign County party chair Habeeb Habeeb said if a quorum of the 76 elected precinct committeemen cannot be obtained Thursday, the party will consider an alternative date of Wednesday. At least a couple of candidates have picked up endorsements in a short time frame, including County Coroner Duane Northrup's backing of Holderfield, and former County Clerk Mark Shelden's support for Blakeman.

"Various people will support various candidates for various reasons, and I think Mark's reasoning (to endorse Blakeman) was qualifications," Habeeb said.

Habeeb said each candidate will be allowed to speak to the group Thursday, and will take questions. The committeemen will then deliberate and select a candidate.

Blakeman is a former chairman for the Champaign County Young Republicans, and he is Assistant Director of Development at the U of I's Division of Student Affairs. Ruggieri is Vice President at Sperry Van Ness- Ramshaw Real Estate. Anderson is a partner with the Anderson & Fitzjarrald law firm in Champaign.

Meanwhile, Hulten's office confirmed Tuesday that longtime Champaign County Board member Barb Wysocki is the Democratic nominee for circuit clerk, defeating Lori Hansen by 20 votes.

Wysocki said she is eager to work with Hansen to improve the circuit clerk's office.

"Both of us were sort of thinking along the same lines even though all of us came to the decision to run in this primary totally independent of each other," Wysocki said. "So, I really want an opportunity to see where we can work together."

The other candidate in the race for the Democratic nomination, Evelyn Underwood, came in third place, garnering more than 26-percent of the vote.

Story source: WILL