2014 readers choice results
Article posted: 1/16/2013 12:01 AM

Errors won't force Roselle candidates off ballot

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All the candidates in the races for Roselle village president and trustee should keep their spots on the April ballot despite filing errors made by several of them, a local electoral board has decided.

Roselle's electoral board on Tuesday overturned a series of objections to the nominating paperwork of four candidates seeking election, including two village president hopefuls. Trustee Kory Atkinson filed the objections on behalf of himself, Trustee Ronald Baker and resident Walter Brinas.

Baker, who is serving his first term as trustee, is trying to unseat longtime Village President Gayle Smolinski. And thanks to Tuesday's decision, newcomers James "Jim" Banks and Jim Schelling still are in the race.

Atkinson, who is an attorney, argued that village president hopefuls Banks and Schelling failed to collect enough signatures to get on the April 9 ballot. He said they should have had their nominating petitions signed by at least 123 qualified voters. That number represents 5 percent of the Roselle residents who voted during the April 2011 election.

The petitions for Banks and Schelling have 105 and 110 signatures, respectively.

Still, Roselle's three-person electoral board refused to remove Banks and Schelling from the ballot, in part, because the candidates relied on information provided by Village Clerk Patty Burns. She incorrectly calculated that village president candidates needed only 80 signatures on their petitions.

That's because Burns based the signature requirement on the number of voters in the April 2009 election, which was the last time the village president's post was on the ballot.

Because of how the law is worded, electoral board member Kevin Millon said he can see "how two reasonable minds could come to two different conclusions" about the signature requirement. So while Atkinson's calculation is correct, the panel concluded that it didn't want to remove the candidates who made an effort to meet the requirement.

It was a decision that Banks praised after his hearing.

"I think the statute is very unclear and ambiguous," Banks said. "I'm an attorney. I read it. And what I took away from it was the same thing that Patty Burns took away from it."

After the positive result of his hearing, he immediately dropped his objections to the nominating petitions of Smolinski and Baker. The electoral board never got to review those complaints.

"I just want get on with the campaign," Banks said.

Whether Banks and Schelling can move on remains to be seen. Atkinson said he might file an appeal with the DuPage County Circuit Court.

"I think the law is very clear that a mistake by a village official doesn't change the meaning of state law," Atkinson said.

Meanwhile, Atkinson said he "absolutely" is going to appeal the electoral board's decision to keep two trustee hopefuls -- Carrie Dahlstrom and Robert Roddy -- on the ballot.

Dahlstrom and Roddy, who are among six candidates seeking three trustee seats, filed their statements of economic interests with the Cook County clerk.

They said they did it because they live in the part of Roselle that's in Cook.

But because most of Roselle is located in DuPage, Atkinson says both candidates should have filed the forms with the DuPage County clerk. "If you don't file with the appropriate officer, the petitions are invalid," he said.

The members of the electoral board disagreed.

"If nothing had been filed, that would have been a fatal mistake," said Smolinski, who served on the panel for only the trustee hearings. "I don't think what happened here was egregious."

If Dahlstrom and Roddy were removed from the ballot, it would have left incumbents Atkinson, Andy Maglio and Terrence Wittman defending their trustee spots against Patrick Devitt.

"My bottom line," Smolinski said, "I think it should be the voters of Roselle who decide."

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