The morning after an electoral board knocked Island Lake mayoral hopeful Charles Amrich off the April 9 ballot, his political allies on Tuesday predicted a Lake County judge will reinstate the candidate on appeal.
“We’re going to win in county court and we’re going to win in April,” said trustee candidate Mark Beeson, who is part of the political slate Amrich formed ahead of the election.
Amrich, a former mayor who intends to challenge incumbent Debbie Herrmann for the post, sounded less confident Tuesday. Even so, he believes a judge will look at the case “and see how the board ruled was wrong.”
A hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Thursday in Lake County Circuit Court.
Ultimately, Amrich said, the people should decide who will be Island Lake’s next mayor.
“That’s what this is all about, giving the residents of Island Lake an opportunity to choose who they want to lead the village,” he said.
Amrich was mayor from 1985 to 2005, and months ago he announced plans to reclaim the office. But a $174 overdue bill for garbage services that he paid in December 2012 — the same day he filed his candidate paperwork but after he signed a formal statement of candidacy — proved to be his undoing at an electoral board hearing Monday night.
A divided board decided Amrich was ineligible to run for mayor because that debt had not been resolved when he signed the statement Dec. 18. Amrich’s attorney argued the debt was paid by the time Amrich filed his paperwork with the village Dec. 26, and as such he should stay on the ballot.
Two members of the board — village trustees Shannon Fox and Thea Morris — disagreed and voted to bump Amrich from the ballot. The electoral board’s third member, Laurie Rabattini, sided with Amrich.
The decision left Herrmann, who’s completing her first term, as the lone mayoral candidate on the ballot. Herrmann said she expected the board would rule as it did.
Rabattini — an outspoken critic of Herrmann and her political allies — publicly called the proceeding “a tremendous waste of the village’s time.”
“It’s a joke,” she said after the vote.
Neither Fox nor Morris commented on their votes at the meeting. However, Fox defended her vote in a Facebook post.
“It is unfortunate for someone to lose their right to candidacy, but there are laws to which a potential candidate must abide,” Fox wrote. “This was not a debt that was a couple days late ... it was in arrears for, at least, months.”
Beeson and the other candidates allied with Amrich are standing by the ex-mayor.
“I support Charlie 110 percent,” Beeson said. “He’s the right man for the job.”
Beeson said the 2-1 vote was “completely expected.”
Fellow trustee candidate Keith Johns criticized the electoral board members for judging Amrich, although that’s what such panels legally are convened to do.
If the people who crowded into the village hall boardroom to observe Monday’s hearing are any indication, Amrich has a lot of fans among residents, too. Several people stood up to criticize the hearing and back Amrich after the vote.
A few questioned the cost of the proceedings, which have been going on for about a month and have involved the village’s attorneys, as well as the size of the village’s annual legal bills.
“There is something seriously wrong with the mayor and the board and this entire process,” resident Greg Jenkins said.
No one in the audience spoke in support of the ruling.
The “For the People” slate Amrich formed will not be able to run as a formal slate if the court upholds the electoral board’s ruling. In addition to Beeson and Johns, Teresa Ponio is running for clerk and Tony Sciarrone is running for a third trustee seat.
The candidates can continue to pool their efforts even if they’re not an official slate, however.
Herrmann leads the “United for Progress” slate. She’s joined by incumbent Clerk Connie Mascillino and first-time trustee hopefuls Josh Rohde, Ken Nitz and Ed McGinty.
Local residents Daniel Field and Louis Sharp filed the formal objection that led to Monday’s hearing.
They also filed an objection to Sciarrone’s candidacy but withdrew it late Monday, after Amrich’s case was decided. As with Amrich, they alleged Sciarrone was ineligible to run due to a debt to the village.
Sciarrone is a former Island Lake police officer who served for a time as interim chief.
Field and Sharp are business owners who have done work for the village, public records show. Sharp is a former trustee, too. Both testified during Monday’s hearing.
Sharp declined to comment. Field couldn’t be reached.
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