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Article updated: 2/14/2013 4:38 PM

Court rejects Wheaton candidate's write-in bid

By Robert Sanchez

Wheaton has won a legal battle to stop a would-be city council candidate from conducting a write-in campaign.

After deciding Frank Garcia can't prove he's lived in Wheaton long enough to legally qualify to serve on the council, the city's electoral board last month removed his name from the ballot. But Garcia sought to pursue a write-in campaign in his bid for an at-large seat against former Councilman John Prendiville.

Now a DuPage County judge has issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the DuPage Election Commission from recognizing Garcia as a write-in candidate.

The ruling by Judge Bonnie Wheaton bars the commission from printing ballots with a write-in spot in Wheaton's at-large council race. And if Garcia still manages to get any votes, those votes won't be counted on Election Day, which is April 9.

Attorney Ken Florey, who is representing Wheaton, said the city is pleased the issue is resolved.

"It (Garcia's campaign) had the potential to create a lot of confusion with the residents," he said. "Worse confusion could have been created if he managed to get elected. So this puts a lot of uncertainty to rest."

On Thursday, Garcia said he hasn't decided whether he's going to appeal the judge's order.

"I am talking to attorneys right now to find out what my chances are," said Garcia, a 54-year-old consultant.

He doesn't have much time to make a decision.

DuPage election officials said they are planning to comply with the judge's ruling when ballots are printed on Feb. 22.

City officials said they pursued the legal action on the advice of their attorneys.

The electoral board -- featuring the mayor, city clerk and senior council member -- concluded Garcia couldn't prove how long he's been a Wheaton resident. To run for city council, you must be a resident for at least a year.

Despite insisting he's been living in Wheaton since 2007, Garcia voted in Naperville during the November election. Officials say Garcia didn't register to vote in Wheaton until last month.

To become a write-in candidate, a person must be a registered voter in the municipality where he or she is seeking office, county election officials said. Garcia was a registered Wheaton voter when he declared his write-in candidacy.

"There's nothing in the law that says I couldn't be a write-in candidate," Garcia said. "I met the requirements."

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