By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Local government officials have announced plans to keep their offices open until 5 p.m. Dec. 26 to accept last-minute petitions from prospective candidates seeking positions in the April 2013 elections.
Until this past weekend, state law required the petition-filing period for certain offices to run from Dec. 17 through 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24.
However, a bill approved by the General Assembly -- and signed into law Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn -- extended the filing deadline to 5 p.m. Dec. 26. This action not only gives candidates two additional days to gather signatures on their petitions, but it also means many government officials across the state won't have to keep their offices open until late afternoon on Christmas Eve -- a time many offices would ordinarily be closed for the holiday.
In response to the law's passage, officials from the Quincy School District, City of Quincy and John Wood Community College all issued press releases Tuesday announcing their intentions to conform with the new law and accept petitions until 5 p.m. Dec. 26.
The Quincy School District, for example, announced it will be closed on Dec. 24-25 for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but will be open on Dec. 26 to accept petitions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
School Board Secretary Phyllis Stewart said the new law doesn't require governmental offices to remain open all day on the 26th, "but we're going to" stay open the full day to accept petitions for the April 9 School Board election.
Stewart said the Quincy School District will begin accepting petitions at 8 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17. She said any candidate who shows up at the Board of Education offices at 1416 Maine prior to 8 a.m. will be considered to be in a tie to file first, so a lottery would be conducted to determine the order that those candidates' names would be placed on the ballot.
JWCC, meanwhile, announced it will accept petitions from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Dec. 17 to Dec. 21 and then just from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 26.
Petitions for the JWCC Board of Trustees must be filed in the president's office on the third flood of the JWCC Student/Administrative Center, 48th and Harrison, according to Leah Benz, administrative assistant to the college's president.
The college otherwise will be closed from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2 for its annual winter recess.
Quincy City Clerk Jenny Hayden said her office in City Hall will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26 to receive petitions from independent candidates for the April 9 city elections. She said petitions also can be filed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 17 through Dec. 21 and from 8:30 to noon on Dec. 24.
Hayden said she was previously planning to open her office from 4 to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve to accept petitions from last-minute filers, but those plans have now been dropped as unnecessary with the passage of the new state law.
Hayden said City Hall will be closed at noon on Christmas Eve -- the customary closing policy for that day.