URBANA — Democrats officially have a candidate for Champaign County clerk, but it remains to be seen for how long.
Al Klein, head of the local Democratic Party, filed nominating petitions late Monday afternoon for Wayne Williams to run as the party's nominee against incumbent County Clerk Gordy Hulten, a Republican. Klein said Democrats were able to get slightly more than 400 signatures on Williams' nominating petitions, significantly more than the minimum of 283 required.
But he did not deny persistent rumors that Williams, who has a state job in Springfield, might not remain on the ballot.
"At this time, he's the candidate," Klein said. "I can't predict what will happen in the future. Jobs come and jobs go. But at this moment, he's the candidate.
"He's a solid candidate. If you have any more questions, you should ask him."
Williams was not present when the nominating papers were filed at the county clerk's office. He could not be reached for comment. Williams had said Sunday that he was leaving the state on Monday for a vacation with his wife.
Records show that Williams has been employed by the state since May 2013 — first in a $3,300-a-month position at the Department of Revenue and more recently in the financial regulation section of the Department of Insurance, where he makes $4,206 a month. Before that time, Williams served as a member of the Champaign County Board of Review but was not appointed to a second term by the Democrat-dominated county board.
The county Democratic central committee slated Williams for county clerk on Friday, Klein said, and immediately began to gather petition signatures, as required by state law.
However, Klein said, Democrats were unable to find anyone willing to run against two other countywide Republican officeholders — Sheriff Dan Walsh and Treasurer Dan Welch.
But Klein had said in March that finding someone to challenge Hulten in the November general election was "job one."
The Democratic chief was critical of Hulten after irregularities turned up in the counts in several uncontested Democratic races in the March primary election. The errors occurred in the vote tabulations for 13th and 15th Congressional District committeeman; the 13th and 15th Congressional District committeewoman; and all precinct committeeman races. All were at the bottom of the ballot — but only the Democratic ballot.
Hulten said Monday that he welcomed the challenge from Williams.
"I was honored to be elected in 2012, and I expected to have an opponent in 2014," he said. "I look forward to an exciting race. I have a record in office that I'm proud of and I'm going to run on it."
Hulten was elected to a two year-term in 2012, defeating Urbana Democrat Charlie Smyth by 54 percent to 46 percent.