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updated: 1/4/2013 2:58 PM

Signatures for incumbent nominating petitions challenged in Ela Township

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A slate comprised mostly of incumbents running for re-election to Ela Township offices is facing a challenge from opponents over signatures gathered to get on the ballot.

The Ela Tax Reform Party, which is also is running as a slate for township supervisor, highway commissioner, clerk, assessor and four trustee spots is objecting to what they term "questionable" signatures on nominating petitions filed by the Ela First slate. Ela First is comprised of seven incumbents and another trustee candidate.

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The objection, filed Thursday with the Ela Township clerk, claims Ela First won't have enough signatures to remain on the ballot once the questionable ones are removed from the petitions.

"We very reluctantly took this step when we noticed that some of the people who had allegedly signed the Ela First petitions had moved from the addresses written on the petition years ago," Ela Tax Reform Party supervisor candidate Barbara Evans said. "We think it is important for the election board to examine these signatures and others of a questionable nature to determine whether the Ela First Party properly handled its petitions."

Thursday was the last day to file objections to candidates and slates who filed petitions for the April 9 Consolidated election.

"We're challenging 214 of them and they need 432," signatures, said Nancy Shepherdson, an Ela Tax Reform Party candidate for township trustee. The slate had gathered 630 signatures.

Signatures were collected as a single entity rather than for individual candidates, which is why the entire slate faces a challenge.

"On one of the pages, there were two couples who had moved years ago from the addresses listed on the page. We said, `Wow, that's not right,'" Shepherdson said. She added there also appeared to be duplicate and forged signatures.

The objection says other signatures appeared invalid for several reasons, such as having an incomplete address or no address listed.

Township Supervisor Lucy Prouty, who is on the Ela First slate, said Friday the objection is being reviewed by the slate's attorney. She declined to discuss specifics but said Ela First would fight the challenge.

"We had a lot of objections to their petitions, really big ones," but decided not to proceed with any formal action, Prouty said. "We're going to play it fair and square."

According to state election law, the local electoral board must meet not less than three nor more than five days after receiving the complaint. Shepherdson said that because the local electoral board in this case would be ruling on a complaint against itself, the chief judge of the Lake County circuit court will have to select others to sit on the three-member panel.

The Ela First slate is comprised of: Prouty; Bill Donnan for clerk; John Barrington for assessor; Bill Kruckenberg for highway commissioner; and, Nancy Thompson, Larry Bowman, Jack Reck and Lynn O'Brien for trustee. All but O'Brien are incumbents.

The Ela Tax Reform Party includes: Evans; Randy Abbott for highway commissioner; Paul Jankowski for clerk; Wayne Wnek for assessor; Mike Jennings, Shepherdson, Vaseem Iftekhar and Nick Buris for trustee.

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