The Watch | Election Commission Updates



While it seemed November would never come, it has. Your elected officials continue to juggle multiple crises — COVID-19, crazy weather, plummeting revenues — as they anticipate a post-election future.

On Sept. 8, Peoria County Election Commission received an update from Executive Director Tom Bride about state guidelines for the Nov. 3 election.

He said separate entries and exits will be needed for each polling place, along with someone to monitor social distancing. Online videos will be used to train election judges. The videos will include information on use of personal protective equipment (PPE) — hand sanitizer, face shields, and alcohol wipes — in addition to normal judges’ training. Masks cannot be mandated for voters, but will be encouraged.

As of Sept. 8, the election office had received approximately 23,000 requests for Vote By Mail. About 5,500 of those were received online and voters could track their ballots online.

If a person physically returned another person’s ballot to the Election Commission, an affidavit needed to be signed. That was not necessary if the ballot was mailed or put in a drop box. The election office had received 200 to 225 applications for judges, with a goal of 400 to 500. Some judges declined to work this year.

Bride had presented the commission’s proposed budget to the county. The only concern seemed to be where to get money for the new voting system. The final budget may get tweaked, but so far was deemed acceptable.

Peoria Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners also met Sept. 8, via Zoom. There was a quorum present; there were no community comments.

Chief Executive Officer Jackie Newman said a “soft re-opening” of the PHA office had begun. More than 2,500 families had been notified of upcoming inspections. Maintenance was being scheduled; households were being screened for COVID-19 to ensure workers’ safety. Work orders will be coordinated so all issues can be addressed in one visit, which is consistent with U.S. Housing & Urban Development guidelines.

A rent moratorium was extended to year’s end; rent payment agreements are being updated. Staff were recognized for outreach to families to ensure access to resources.

Business items on the consent agenda included replacement of the roof at Sterling Towers East, bathroom renovation at scattered-site housing, renewal of contracts for legal services, lawn care and commercial grounds maintenance, and extension of the contract with PDC Services Inc. for garbage disposal services PHA-wide.

Chairman Carl Cannon asked about a power outage at Harrison Homes on Sept. 7. He was told staff had discussion with Ameren and Laser Electric during the outage and will follow up with Ameren to prevent or limit future outages.

Commissioner Kim Furness asked if employees were concerned about the availability of PPE. Newman said PPE — masks, gloves, booties — is available at all locations. Employees have been informed. She said funding for the equipment is available through the CARES Act.

On Sept. 23, Peoria Park District Board of Trustees President Robert Johnson led a meeting via Zoom on the PPD Facebook page. Trustees Joseph Cassidy, Joyce Harant, Jacqueline Petty, Nancy Snowden and Mic Williams were present. Trustee Matthew Ryan was absent.

The board received a report indicating PPD employment fell from 741 employees in July 2019 to 280 employees in July 2020. The drop was attributed to the reduction in services caused by COVID-19. Most of the employees were working in parks and golf.

Executive Director Emily Cahill reported the Beyond School Program would begin in October to support home school and on-line students aged 4 to 17 in the areas of fitness, nature, and STEAM. The Children’s Playhouse remains closed; however, live and on-line programs are available for children from 2 to 5 years of age. Proctor Recreation Center’s DREAM Program operates from 1 to 5:30 p.m. daily.

Trustees were requested to provide staff with direction on the Christopher Columbus statue in Bradley Park.
Trustee Cassidy made a motion to leave the Columbus statue in Bradley Park. Harant, Petty, Snowden, Williams, and Johnson voted Nay; Cassidy voted Aye. The motion failed.

Trustee Petty made a motion to remove the Columbus statue and return the area to green space. Cassidy voted Nay; Harant, Petty, Snowden, Williams, and Johnson voted Aye.

President Johnson said a Policy Committee will be formed and announced at the next meeting.

League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria observers attend and report on local government meetings. Check

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