I hope you are enjoying these early fall days that bring cooler weather and fall colors on the trees. It’s hard to believe that this week marks six months of navigating our Covid-19 world. We have all adapted our daily routines, and I remain grateful for all that you do each day to keep our community safe. I wish I could see more of you in person, and I encourage you to call or write to me to let me know what’s on your mind.
Last week I participated in a 9/11 memorial service in Evanston. Listening to first responders, as well as other officials, I am reminded of a time when we all pulled together to rebound from that horrible attack with a shared sense of purpose and community. Although we are now facing a different threat with the coronavirus, the same sense of shared purpose is needed. I remain optimistic that by working together, we will meet the challenges that lie ahead and find ways to adapt to this ‘new normal’ until we are able to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror.
Recently, I joined my colleagues for a legislative luncheon with the Evanston/Skokie League of Women Voters to respond to questions and provide an overview of our priorities for the upcoming session in Springfield. While our offices are busy helping constituents navigate the impacts of this pandemic, we are also planning for the future.
Among our most urgent priorities is ensuring that we can safely cast our ballots in the upcoming elections. That’s why I voted to expand Illinois’ vote-by-mail system and other means to make voting safer during this pandemic. Make sure you have a plan to vote and see below for more information. Students will play a critical role in the 2020 elections. Many of the poll workers who traditionally served as election judges or polling place volunteers will not return this year because they are more vulnerable to Covid-19. Election Day is a state holiday this year, and high school juniors and seniors can serve as election judges (most schools will be closed on Election Day, and this is paid work). Learn more and apply here.
Stay safe and stay well.
Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz
Plan Your Vote and Vote Your Plan in 3 Steps
In Illinois, as in most states, the County Clerk is responsible for voter registration and management of elections. The Cook County Clerk’s website is the best source of information for registration, voting locations, and related information. To make sure your vote counts follow these three steps.
- Register to vote or check your registration status. Suburban Cook County voters can click here to check registration information and update it if needed. If you are registering for the first time, you have until October 6th to complete and return a paper registration form, and until October 18th to register online.
- Plan how and when you will vote. You can vote by mail, participate in early, in-person voting, or vote on Election Day.
- Vote by mail/absentee. You can request a ballot here and they will be mailed to the address specified starting September 24th. To be valid your ballot must be returned or postmarked by Nov. 3rd or earlier.
- Vote early in-person at polling locations starting October 19th. Leave more time to vote because social distancing requirements may mean fewer voting stations at some locations.
- Vote in-person Nov. 3rd.
- Vote and remind others to do so as well.
The most important things to remember when casting a mail-in or drop-off ballot are:
- Sign the ballot with the signature on file,
- Use the same information (name, address, etc.) as on your voter registration, and
- Mail or drop it off early, and no later than Nov. 3rd.
Drop boxes will be installed throughout the county and district for use beginning October 19th. They will be secure and emptied daily. A close relative or authorized person can drop off someone’s complete, sealed ballot. Drop boxes in the district will be at the following locations:
- Evanston – Evanston Civic Center
- Glenview – Glenview Village Hall
- Niles – Niles Village Hall
- Northbrook – Northbrook Village Hall
- Skokie – Skokie Courthouse and Oakton Community College/Skokie Campus
- Wilmette – Centennial Park
Note that once a mail-in ballot has been sent to a voter you are placed on a Who Voted list. You can change your mind and elect to vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day. However, unless you bring the ballot sent to you to your polling place and surrender it to the polling judges, you will be required to take a Provisional Ballot which will be counted only if it can be confirmed that you did not vote any other way. Or, you can cancel your mail-in ballot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign Up for a Webinar to Learn More About Property Tax Appeals
As many of us know, Northfield Township residents received tax assessments in the last few weeks, and many are considering appealing future assessments. Representative Gong-Gershowitz is co-sponsoring with other officials serving Northbrook and Northfield a series of webinars hosted by Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Dan Patlak. See dates and times below and use this link to register.
Covid 19 Update: More BIG State Grants, Federal Stimulus Payments and Housing Support
Gov. Pritzker Announced Round 2 of State Business Interruption Grants
This week the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced that $220 million in additional grants will be made available for small businesses suffering losses as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as a new Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) program that will provide $25 million to cover the cost of civil-unrest related repairs while also supporting investment in economically distressed communities across Illinois. The second round of BIG grants build on over $49 million in grants awarded last month and aim to provide relief for all types of small businesses with a focus on businesses located downstate or in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) – which includes part of Skokie. Applications and information can be found on DCEO’s website at Illinois.gov/dceo.
IDHS Can Help Secure Federal Stimulus Payments
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized one-time payments of stimulus checks for individuals and families under certain income thresholds. If you qualify for payment but have not received it, the Illinois Department of Human Services can assist you. Here are the benefits for qualifying taxpayers:
- $1,200 for single taxpayers with incomes of $75,000 or less.
- $2,400 for married couples filing jointly with incomes of $150,000 or less (plus $500 for each qualifying child under the age of 17).
- $1,200 for the head of household taxpayers with incomes of $112,500 or less (plus $500 for each qualifying child under the age of 17).
- Those with higher incomes may qualify for smaller stimulus payments as well.
IDHS helped create the GetMyPaymentIL.org website to answer stimulus questions and provide a step-by-step process to follow to receive a stimulus check. Citizens can use this even if you have not filed a tax return, or your return has not been processed. You have until October 15th to file the necessary paperwork.
Housing and Utility Relief: Moratoriums Extended
Loss of jobs or other financial hardship means many homeowners, renters, and landlords are unable to pay rent, mortgages, or utility fees. These programs may provide some relief.
Federal Eviction Moratorium to December 31st.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a temporary eviction moratorium through the end of the calendar year. The CDC’s order aims to extend to residential properties that are occupied by renters who meet certain income thresholds, have applied for government assistance, have lost income due to the pandemic, and would be rendered homeless if evicted. Renters must sign a declaration to qualify for relief. You can read the temporary order and the renter declaration required here.
Illinois eviction moratorium extended to September 19th.
Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-52 extending the statewide eviction moratorium until September 19, from August 22, 2020. Additional renter protections may be in place for individual municipalities. Check with local governmental leaders.
The utility shut-off moratorium has been extended to September 30th.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) announced that several electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utilities have voluntarily agreed to extend the moratorium on disconnections for residential customers. The following companies have agreed to extend the moratorium on disconnections for residential customers until September 30, 2020: Nicor Gas, Northshore/Peoples Gas, Illinois American Water, Aqua Illinois, and Utility Services of Illinois (ComEd agreed to extend through September 10, 2020).
Your 2020 CENSUS Response is Due September 30th
Completing the Census takes no more than 10 minutes. Providing an accurate count of people in your household on April 1 benefits our community by allowing fair allocation of funds for schools and community spaces like parks and ensuring accurate apportionment of seats in Congress for the next decade. You have three options to complete the Census:
- Online at www.My2020Census.gov (scanning the QR code below will take you there).
- Phone – call 844-330-2020.
- Mail in the paper form delivered to your home.
District Shout Out to Wagner Farms – Feeding Glenview Initiative
To increase residents’ access to fresh food amid COVID-19, historic Wagner Farm in Glenview reverted to being a full-time working farm. Its initiative, called Feeding Glenview, shifts the farm’s mission from providing public programming to food production. So far the team has donated over 500 dozen eggs, 600 lbs. of produce, and 1,400 lbs. of lamb, pork, and beef to the Northfield Township Food Pantry. Thank you to everyone for this great effort.
- Speaking at the 9/11 Patriot Day Remembrance Ceremony in Evanston
- Supporting Census outreach through schools, food pantries, park districts, and community cultural organizations in Skokie, Glenview, and Evanston
- Discussing Women’s Health initiatives with working group members
- Attending a Great Lakes Legislative Council meeting
- Celebrating Korean War veterans’ contributions at Taste of Korea
- Serving on the House Democratic Women’s Caucus childcare working group
- Participating in district Chamber of Commerce and Optimist events