Jason Jones of Waterloo, a Democrat, will run against Republican candidate Jonathan McLean in November for the Monroe County clerk seat being vacated by Dennis Knobloch.
Jones told the Republic-Times he knew he wanted to run for office and thought now was the perfect opportunity.
“Public service has always been something I wanted to do all my life. I always thought it would be later,” he explained. “I thought I would be older, but I feel like I’m the right man for the job.”
Jones added that no one else in his party stepped up to run and his wife gave him a push, knowing he was interested in politics. One of his motivations behind running is to “bring balance and accountability back to our county government.”
“Everything is Republican and they can do just about anything they want,” he explained.
Jones, who received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Northeastern Illinois University, said if elected he would work to keep the polls secure and up-to-date. Jones has served as a poll watcher and precinct committeeman for the Democratic party.
He also mentioned including more election-related services online, such as residents being able to look up what ward or precinct they live in.
“I’ve had a lot of people close to me approach me about doing that,” he said.
Jones relayed that getting residents to come out and vote in November would require that he be present at community events. For the March primary, 15.8 percent of registered voters in the county made it out to the polls.
“That is very much on my mind. The trend — not just in Monroe County but everywhere — is people just don’t vote. It’s sad,” he expressed.
Monroe County Democratic Central Committee chairman Scot Luchtefeld said the committee was set to caucus candidates during its annual dinner Thursday night at Turner Hall in Columbia.
The deadline to file for candidacy after the primary election is June 4, Knobloch said, adding that Jones would only need to obtain 76 signatures to have his name appear on the ballot.
When a banner for Jones’ candidacy was displayed at Thursday’s dinner, it confirmed a rumor that the Democratic party would have someone to run in the county elections. The election is slated for Nov. 6.
Jones, 38, is a substitute teacher at Valmeyer High School. He obtained his teaching license from McKendree University and is currently in a graduate program at the school to earn his master’s degree.
Jones and his wife, Mandy, have four children — Beatrice, Jason Jr., Robert and Adellade.
Jones graduated from Waterloo High School in 1997.
He grew up in Monroe County and has moved around between Michigan, Champaign and Chicago. Jones said the choice to come back in 2015 came down to being in a family-oriented community.
“It was just time. The kids were finally ready to start kindergarten,” he recalled. “We wanted to come home to a good place to raise our kids with a good school.”