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Article updated: 3/11/2013 3:38 PM

Charles Amrich back on Island Lake ballot, but candidate's fate not clear

By Russell Lissau

A Lake County judge on Monday ordered Island Lake's village clerk to resubmit a candidate list that includes mayoral hopeful Charles Amrich's name -- even though the judge hasn't decided if Amrich can run.

With Amrich's political fate not yet clear, the phrase "objection pending" will accompany Amrich's name on ballots.

Judge Christopher Starck's order also instructs the Lake County and McHenry County clerks' offices to begin printing ballots for the April 9 election with Amrich's name. Voting by mail is scheduled to begin Friday, and election officials have said time is running out to meet that deadline.

"It just seems to make logistical sense," Starck said.

A hearing on Amrich's eligibility is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Starck's courtroom in Waukegan.

Amrich has twice been knocked off the ballot by a local electoral board, leaving incumbent Debbie Herrmann the lone mayoral candidate.

If Starck rules against Amrich, who was the town's mayor from 1985 to 2005, any votes cast for him wouldn't be considered legal.

Starck agreed to issue the order following a brief hearing Monday. Village Clerk Connie Mascillino said she complied with the order within a few hours.

Until Monday, Mascillino had refused to update the candidate list to include Amrich's name, citing advice she received from the town's attorney.

Herrmann and Mascillino are running as part of the United for Progress slate.

The most recent blow to Amrich's campaign came March 7, when the three-member board decided Amrich had missed the deadline to fill an opening on the For the People slate -- a vacancy created Feb. 4 when he was first ruled ineligible because of a $174 garbage bill that was paid late.

The electoral board also decided Amrich's most recent paperwork was lacking a needed date.

Amrich and his attorneys appealed the ruling, which landed the case before Starck.

Neither Amrich nor Herrmann were in court Monday. Rather, six attorneys representing various parties in the matter appeared before Starck.

Adam Lasker, an attorney for the electoral board and Mascillino, didn't object to the order returning Amrich's name to the ballot. He acknowledged the county clerks have to get the ballot process moving forward.

"We want to accommodate (them)," Lasker said after the hearing. "They have a job to do, and they've got to do it within a certain amount of time."

Lake County Clerk Willard Helander said the time frame to get the ballots ready by Friday will be tight. With Starck's order in hand, ballot printing began Monday, she said.

"May no printing machine break down," Helander joked in an email to the Daily Herald.

Following Monday's hearing, Amrich's attorneys hinted at a possible write-in candidacy for the ex-mayor if Starck rules against the veteran politician.

Amrich said he'll wait until after Tuesday's hearing to comment.

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