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updated: 3/1/2013 5:32 PM

Island Lake clerk won't submit Amrich's name as candidate

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  • Charles Amrich, left, and Debbie Herrmann

      Charles Amrich, left, and Debbie Herrmann

 
 

Four days after Island Lake mayoral hopeful Charles Amrich filed paperwork to get back on the April 9 ballot, Village Clerk Connie Mascillino on Friday said she hasn't resubmitted his name to election officials and has no plans to do so.

"On the advice of the village attorney and to conform to state statutes, I have not filed any further certified amended ballots as of this date," Mascillino said in an email to the Daily Herald.

Mascillino is running as part of a slate opposing Amrich's team. Her inaction -- and the advice she said she's received from attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer -- has stunned Lake County Clerk Willard Helander.

"In 18 years, I have not seen anything like this," Helander said in an email. "I am concerned and mystified by the ongoing role of counsel to determine what names are to be on the ballot."

Amrich, a former mayor challenging incumbent Debbie Herrmann for the post, was irate.

"What are they sitting on it for?" he said. "It's a blatant violation of my rights as a candidate."

Amrich's attorney on Friday filed a request to have a Lake County judge order Mascillino to add him as a candidate. Amrich also is seeking to prevent the Lake County and McHenry County clerks from printing ballots without his name. The village is divided between the two counties.

A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 5.

McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz couldn't be reached for comment.

Amrich was knocked off the ballot by a local electoral board last month. On Monday, he filed paperwork with Mascillino's office to fill the vacancy created by that board's action.

Under state law, a slate of candidates is allowed to nominate someone to fill a slot that has unexpectedly opened during a campaign.

It's the clerk's job to then submit an amended list of candidates to the county clerk, which oversees elections. Both county clerks need to receive the updated list.

That typically happens quickly, but Mascillino has not sent a new list with Amrich's name to the county clerks.

Mascillino insisted she's staying neutral in this battle.

"My principles are legal, ethical and moral in all I do," she said. She later said she's been advised not to comment further.

In an eight-page memo to Mascillino, Krafthefer advised Amrich's paperwork is "defective" and the clerk has no legal obligation to amend the candidate list to include his name.

Krafthefer alleged Amrich didn't properly complete the new nomination papers, claiming they didn't include the date he was selected to fill the vacancy. That's required under the law, she wrote.

Krafthefer also said the eight-day window for Amrich's "For the People" slate to name a replacement candidate closed before he refiled.

The electoral board ruled Amrich ineligible Feb. 4, and that's when the clock started for the slate to find a new candidate, she wrote.

However, the board's ruling was delayed by a temporary restraining order until Feb. 19, when a Lake County judge dismissed Amrich's appeal. Helander said that's the date that matters, and she believes Amrich's new paperwork was turned in before the eight-day deadline.

Krafthefer disagreed. "We can find no case law that supports such a (move)," she wrote.

Amrich has other foes to contend with, too.

On Thursday, former trustee Louis Sharp and local resident Daniel Field filed a formal objection to Amrich's renewed candidacy.

They cited the lack of a date on Amrich's application and the eight-day window as reasons to again disqualify him as a candidate. A hearing date hasn't been set.

Sharp and Field filed the objection that led to Amrich being ruled ineligible last month. They also objected to Amrich ally Tony Sciarrone's candidacy, but they withdrew that complaint after Amrich was ruled ineligible.

When combined with Mascillino's inaction, the latest objection from Sharp and Field puzzled Helander.

"How can one have a hearing to remove a candidate from the ballot when there is no candidate?" she said.

Quoting state law, Helander suggested the proper action would be to submit an amended candidate list with the words "objection pending" next to Amrich's name and under the title of the office in question. The courts then will tell the clerks what to do, if legal review is sought, she said.

Amrich said he hadn't heard about Sharp and Field's latest objection before being asked about it by the Daily Herald.

Mark Beeson, a trustee candidate running with Amrich and Sciarrone as part of the "For the People" slate, said he was bewildered by Mascillino's inaction.

"I'm just disappointed that the village is going out of its way not to give the people a choice," Beeson said.

He said the slate members will fight the latest objection.

The other members of the "For the People" slate are clerk hopeful Teresa Ponio and trustee candidate Keith Johns.

Herrmann, the town's mayor since 2009, leads the "United for Progress" slate. She's joined by Mascillino and first-time trustee candidates Josh Rohde, Ken Nitz and Ed McGinty.

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