As with nearly all aspects of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced this year’s political candidates in Will County to rethink how they campaign ahead of the November election.
Last Saturday, State Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, who is running in the 43rd Senate District, and Dagmara "Dee" Avelar, who is running for Connor’s seat in the 85th House District, traveled to the Fairmont neighborhood in Lockport Township.
Both candidates had some prior canvassing experience but under much different circumstances. On Saturday, they and their team wore masks and frequently applied hand sanitizer after they would hand residents a plastic bag with literature on local Democratic candidates.
They said the pandemic has made it so that their conversations with voters are much shorter. Campaign traditions like shaking hands are a thing of the past.
Connor likened the experience to having "one hand tied behind my back."
"It’s just a lot of things we took for granted at that point, we no longer can do," he said. "It’s just a different feeling."
Even with the shorter conversations, the candidates asked residents if they had a plan to vote. Election officials in Will County and around the country are anticipating record numbers of mail-in ballots cast as the nation continues to deal with COVID-19.
Connor and Avelar made a point to inform voters of all their options: mail-in voting, early voting, and using drop boxes.
"It’s turning into an educational issue," Avelar said of informing voters.
To the surprise of the candidates, most residents they spoke to on Saturday were insistent that they were going to vote in person. Connor attributed the sentiment to the news of delays with the U.S. Postal Service, though he said he was comforted to know so many wanted to ensure their votes were counted.
Aside from the pandemic, Connor and Avelar had a number of other important issues to ask voters about.
The candidates asked residents if they had completed the census, which nearly all of them said they already did.
Connor requested many of them to also vote "yes" on the "fair tax" referendum for a proposed amendment to the state constitution to allow for graduated income tax brackets which voters need to approve.
With the myriad challenges facing the country, Avelar said she’s heard from residents wanting to do more than vote. More have wanted to participate, even from home with work like phone banking.
"I’ve seen more people wanting to get involved," she said.
The general election is Nov. 3.
News,City: Joliet,Region: Joliet
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September 21, 2020 at 06:12AM