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Larry Lough

Second Opinion: Come on in, no long lines – for voting

Whiteside and Carroll county voters have tax referendums.

Lee and Ogle counties have interesting races for sheriff, and Ogle also has a contest for state’s attorney.

No one can have missed the campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, although the race for treasurer might have escaped your attention.

So, you have no excuse not to vote in Tuesday’s primary election.

But we’re certain that plenty of folks will find one anyway.

DAD NEVER VOTED in a primary election; Mom always did.

He said he didn’t want anyone to “know” his “politics”; she didn’t care.

Despite people saying they are “registered” Republicans or Democrats, they’re not. Not in Illinois.

Unlike some states, Illinois has a non-partisan voter registration.

The only way anyone can “know” your politics is by the ballot you choose in the primary election. Because Illinois does not have a closed primary, you must ask for a Democratic or Republican ballot.

But you can switch partisan ballots from primary to primary – Republican one time, Democratic the next – if only to keep ’em guessing.

Because voters don’t have much reason to ask for the Democratic ballot in this primary election, the Republican vote will dwarf the Democratic vote just about everywhere.

Those contentious, high-profile campaigns for sheriff and governor will bring out the voters.

Heck, some counties around here might even get a 25 percent turnout.

Hey, it is only a primary election.

We’ll do better Nov. 4.

WHEN WE SAY IT’S “only” a primary, it could be much more than that.

In those races for the Republican nomination for sheriff in Lee and Ogle counties, no candidate filed on the Democratic ballot.

Does that mean the winners on Tuesday will be elected sheriff? Probably – but not necessarily.

Local Democratic officials will be able to fill that ballot vacancy with a candidate before November.

Will they? Probably not. They failed to do so in 2010.

But this year is different, especially in Lee County. A tough, hard-fought primary campaign will leave even the winner a bit bloody and bruised – politically speaking.

Might that create a vulnerability in November that Democrats could take advantage of, even in a heavily Republican county?

Could Democrats cobble together a coalition with disappointed, disaffected Republicans after Tuesday to mount a credible challenge to the Republican nominee?

That makes for interesting political speculation – and, from a purely selfish standpoint, would make for a much more interesting campaign for the local media to cover.

Stay tuned.

ARE ANY VOTERS in Lee County not sure who they will vote for in the sheriff’s race?

People have had plenty of opportunity to learn about the candidates: two public forums for people who could attend, and newspaper coverage of the events for people who couldn’t; newspaper ads (print and online) and radio spots; yard signs and brochures; regular newspaper coverage of the political conflict, and extensive profiles of the candidates; dozens of letters to the editor, and even more online and Facebook comments.

Of course, this race doesn’t seem to have had many fence-sitters to be influenced by all the hoopla.

Nearly every letter, and every online post, was written by someone passionate about one candidate or the other. That means they’re mostly family or friends whose vote was locked down months ago.

Here’s the letter that this editor would like to see ...

I don’t know either candidate personally, and I had never met them until I attended a candidates’ forum and made a point to introduce myself afterward, shake their hands and look them in the eye when I asked a question.

I read all the newspaper articles, scanned their campaign material, and talked to several people who knew something about them, personally and professionally.

After taking all that into consideration, here is who I will vote for, and why ...

Very few people could write that letter.

EACH BIASED SIDE in the Lee County sheriff’s race has its silly issue.

For John Varga supporters, it’s that John Simonton is already drawing a pension from his state police retirement and would be eligible for a second pension as sheriff.

For backers of Simonton, that issue is Varga’s lack of certification as a law enforcement officer.

The sheriff is an administrator. By state law, he doesn’t have to be a cop, just as the coroner doesn’t have to be a physician and the treasurer doesn’t have to be an accountant.

People ought to appreciate not only Varga’s two terms as sheriff, but his presence in the community. McHenry County has a “cellphone sheriff” – a guy who spends lots of time at his expensive vacation homes in Florida and northern Wisconsin, who tells critics that his deputies know they can always reach him through his cellphone.

And whether a guy is drawing one pension or 50 has no bearing on his qualifications to be sheriff. State law doesn’t prohibit a state pensioner from being a sheriff.

People ought to appreciate not only Simonton’s impressive career in law enforcement, but the fact he’s willing to put up with the craziness of a political campaign because he thinks he can improve the sheriff’s department. He doesn’t need that aggravation.

So, thanks Sheriff Varga and Commander Simonton.

May the better man win.