The absence of a single word could cost two Winfield trustee candidates their spots on the April ballot.
Incumbent Jay Olson and newcomer Tom Blackburn are facing removal from the ballot because of objections claiming they didn't properly identify the office they're seeking.
Resident Marianne Bruss, who filed both objections, is complaining about Olson and Blackburn submitting nominating paperwork that said they are running for "trustee." Bruss claims both candidates should have written "village trustee" on the forms.
Now Bruss wants the village's electoral board to deem Olson's and Blackburn's nominating paperwork invalid. The three-member panel heard testimony on Monday and is expected to make a decision on Thursday.
"This is Winfield," Blackburn before Monday's electoral board hearing. "Political opponents feel very strongly about their convictions. They are not going to let any competing campaign go unchallenged."
Olson and Blackburn are among six candidates competing for three seats on the village board. The other trustee candidates in the race are James C. McCurdy, Phillip Mustes, Charles Jacques and incumbent Jack Bajor.
Blackburn says he agrees with Olson on several major issues, including a proposal to rezone parts of Roosevelt Road for redevelopment. That's why there are some who would like to see them knocked off the April 9 ballot, according to Blackburn. "We have the most to lose by having our names stricken from the ballot," he added.
Bruss didn't attend Monday's hearing at village hall. Instead, she was represented by attorney Roger Kotecki.
Kotecki, a former DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioner, argued that the way Olson and Blackburn filled out their nominating paperwork could cause confusion about whether they're running for village trustee or library board trustee. In Winfield, village board members and library board members are both considered trustees.
"The confusion arises from the existence of two elected governmental boards, which are both part of the local government known as the village of Winfield," Kotecki told the electoral board.
However, Blackburn said there is "no reasonable confusion" as to what trustee means when referring to the "village of Winfield" in the documents.
Olson, who is seeking a second term, said none of the residents who signed his petition were confused about his re-election plan. "I knew everybody, and they knew I was a current trustee," he said.
In addition to the issue about the office sought, Bruss tried to challenge some of the signatures on Olson's petition. That objection was dropped on Monday after Olson proved the signatures are valid.
Typically, a municipality's electoral board is composed of the village president, the village clerk and the longest-serving trustee.
But with Bajor seeking re-election, he had to be excluded from making decisions that affect the trustee race. DuPage County's chief judge appointed attorney Kevin Millon, a West Chicago resident, to fill Bajor's spot on the electoral board. The two other members of Winfield's electoral board are Village President Deborah Birutis and Village Clerk Anne Mareachen.