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How to run for office – first steps

By Katie Arvia

LANSING, Ill. (October 4, 2022) – Lansing residents will be called to action this coming April for local elections. Though the election is still months away, now is the time for aspiring candidates to get started.

Basic steps when running for office

The Illinois State Board of Elections recommends that office-seekers seek legal counsel as their first step in the election process. This can help candidates determine:

  • Their legal qualifications for office
  • The proper method for completing the petition forms
  • Minimum and maximum number of signatures required
  • The qualifications of signers and circulators
  • Other valuable information

Candidates must meet certain qualifications to be eligible for office. Trustees for the village, park, library, and school boards must reside in Lansing for at least one year prior to their election. A person is not eligible to take office if he or she is in debt to the Village of Lansing or has been convicted of any “infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or any other felony,” says Illinois law. Additionally, candidates must be citizens of the United States.

Filing for office

Candidates may file for office in one of three ways: as a candidate of an established political party, as a candidate of a new political party, or as an independent candidate. All candidates must file the following papers:

Statement of Candidacy

  • On the Statement of Candidacy, the form of the candidate’s name, as printed and signed, should match the name as printed on the petition. Additionally, the address of the candidate, the office for which person is a candidate, political party designation (if applicable), and statements that the person is qualified for the office specific (if required) should also match the information as printed on the petition.

Statement of Economic Interests

  • This form is available from the State Board of Elections of the Index Division of the Office of the Secretary of State. Candidates filing with county of local election authorities may also obtain the Statement of Economic Interests from the county clerk’s office. Candidates must file a receipt indicating they have filed a Statement of Economic Interests, as required by the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act. Candidates should file this receipt at the same time they file their nominating petitions.

Loyalty Oath (optional)

  • Filing a Loyalty Oath is optional. Several court cases have found that requiring a Loyalty Oath is unconstitutional.

Nominating petition sheets

  • Petitions must include a sufficient number of signatures. Petition circulators must be at least 18 years of age and a United States citizen. The circulator must witness all signatures given. Petition sheets must not be circulated more than 90 days preceding the last day for the filing of petitions. This year, the first legal date to start circulating petitions was September 20, 2022.

Candidates from established political parties, candidates from new political parties, and independent candidates must submit these forms to the Illinois State Board of Elections. The filing period for established parties candidates starts on November 21 and ends on November 28. The filing period for new party and independent candidates starts on December 12 and ends on December 19.

Candidates may also choose to run as a write-in candidate. A write-in candidate must file a notarized Declaration of Intent to be a Write-In Candidate no later than February 2, 2023.

More complete information about running for office is available in the Illinois State Board of Election’s 2023 Candidate’s Guide.

Questions about signing petitions

Those with questions about circulating petitions, what petitions are, whether or not they’re bound to ultimately vote for a petition they sign, and other questions can view the 2018 article below:

Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").