What Kind of Municipal Elections Does City of DeKalb Have?

City of DeKalb candidates for municipal offices in the spring elections are not all using the same ballot petition forms.

For example, of the four mayoral candidates, three of them are filing as “independents” and one of them filed a “nonpartisan” form. A similar pattern has occurred with the aldermanic candidates.

There are differences. “Independent” signals that a municipality has partisan elections, but the independent candidate has decided on the independent label instead of a party label, and the independent can’t “get primaried” like the party animals can. “Nonpartisan” means there’s always just one election, no primaries, and nobody in it has a formal association at all.

Nobody ever “gets primaried” in DeKalb. Does that mean DeKalb has nonpartisan elections?

If you said, “Yes,” you are wrong, according to the State Board of Elections, who confirmed for me that they have DeKalb categorized as partisan. It’s easy to see why many of us think that, though. We have a long tradition of “not primary-ing” anybody, and this has morphed over time into an assumption that DeKalb has nonpartisan elections (hence the regular appearance of nonpartisan petition sheets). The clerk’s office doesn’t even post the deadlines, signature requirements and election dates for municipal primaries in the same place as it lists them for other local elections, which adds to the confusion.

By the way, Board of Elections also says the specific form doesn’t matter as long as the content requirements (e.g., numbers of signatures) are met.

I have suggested to the county clerk’s office that they add primary information in the future, which would help us remember that we have the right to parties and primaries if we want them.

We should discuss the pros and cons sometime.