After a few years away from public office, John Ackerman appears ready to return.
The Republican from Washington said he intends to run in 2018 for Tazewell County clerk, four years after an unsuccessful bid for the office. An official announcement is planned for September.
The Democratic incumbent, Christie Webb, announced last month she won't run for a seventh four-year term. In 2014, Webb defeated Ackerman by about 2,500 votes out of more than 37,500 cast.
"Last time, the opponent was an incumbent. It was an uphill challenge for anybody," Ackerman said. "Now that (Webb has) announced, I want to get my message back in front of people, to see what we can do in that office."
Ackerman spent two stints and 10 years on the Tazewell County Board. His most recent term ended in 2014. Since then, he's established a public-relations consulting business. His primary client is the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.
The business is doing well, Ackerman said. But he also said many of the items on his campaign docket three years ago remain relevant.
Among those items is quicker reporting of election results and ensuring their integrity, although Ackerman praised Webb in the latter effort.
"Nobody questions the results in Tazewell County ever, and that really speaks to her credibility," Ackerman said. "... She has a great staff, but with any enterprise, you should always strive to do better."
An improved county website also was on Ackerman's 2014 list. It dovetails with his calls for more transparency in county government.
The political life of Ackerman, a 39-year-old married father of three, has had its moments of controversy.
While a County Board member, Ackerman claimed more than $300 in mileage reimbursements while his driver's license was suspended. During a Washington City Council campaign, he mischaracterized his family relationship to former state Rep. Jay Ackerman.
Those incidents and others were key in at least two Republican countywide office holders, Sheriff Robert Huston and board Chairman David Zimmerman, endorsing Webb in 2014. A third Republican, State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz, also endorsed the Democrat.
Ackerman cited his endorsements by various other GOP officials. He also noted Huston, Umholtz and Zimmerman had worked with Webb for years.
"In this election, that comfort with an incumbent in the position will not be an option," Ackerman stated. "I'm not looking for 100 percent of the vote. I hope I changed their minds, but it is their decision."
No Democrats have expressed formal, public interest in the clerk's race, although Webb has said she expects credible candidates to emerge.
The clerk's office is responsible for elections, County Board minutes and vital statistics. Real-estate transactions and liens also are handled through the office's function as recorder of deeds. The recorder's office merged into the clerk's office five years ago, a voter-approved combination.