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updated: 12/11/2012 5:19 PM

Ex-nightclub owner knocked off ballot in Elgin

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Former local nightclub owner Anthony Nance won't be allowed to run for Elgin City Council because he owes the city money.

A specially convened electoral panel -- comprising council members John Steffen and Anna Moeller plus City Clerk Kim Dewis -- upheld Tuesday objections to Nance's candidacy filed by former Mayor Ed Schock and resident Nikki Scott.

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Colleen Lavery, the city's chief financial officer, testified that Nance owes almost $8,400 in court costs from a federal lawsuit he unsuccessfully waged against the city. State law forbids people in debt to a municipality from running for local office.

Nance argued, though, he hasn't received any bills from the city, but Steffen said that is not a valid defense.

Nance also said he believed the debt had been waived or satisfied because Elgin Mayor David Kaptain told him in person and on the phone that all matters regarding the lawsuit had been settled and that there were no obstacles to his running for office.

However, Kaptain testified he didn't remember such conversations. He said he last talked to Nance a week or two ago. "You asked if I knew about the petitions, I said I was gone for five days and I had no idea," Kaptain said.

He also testified, "You and your wife came in about a year ago about the payment of the judgment. I said it would have to be worked out and you should contact (Corporation Counsel William) Cogley,"

Nance said he wasn't surprised the hearing didn't go his way.

"I'm not trying to blast him (Kaptain), but he should tell the truth," he said.

Nance also had asked for a dismissal because the electoral board failed to serve him a copy of the objections in a timely manner, thus violating his due process. The board, however, ruled that although Nance was served "technically late," the timing is a directive and not mandatory under the law. Also, Nance failed to show he had "suffered any prejudice" as a result.

Residents Ora Hughes and Bennie Sowers spoke in support of Nance. "This just continues to divide the community. He should have been allowed to run," Hughes said.

Nance and his wife, Bettie, owned the now-closed Anthony's Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Elgin, and filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Schock and other city officials alleging they conspired to close the business because they are black. The club opened in 2003; in 2004, the city's liquor commission -- then headed by Shock -- revoked its liquor license, a decision that was overturned by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

Nance's ouster from the ballot leaves 22 candidates running for city council, nine of them for 2-year terms and the rest for 4-year terms.

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