Three DuPage County candidates, including two seeking countywide seats, could be kicked off the March primary ballot if residents opposing their candidacies can prove mistakes were made on their nomination papers.
Opponents claim petitions filed by Mary Lou Wehrli, Mike Quiroz and Joseph C. Wozniak don't have enough valid signatures to qualify the candidates for the March 18 primary election.
Wehrli, who is a DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioner, is running against fellow board member Joe Cantore of Oak Brook for the district's presidency in the GOP primary to replace retiring D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr.
Quiroz, a Democrat from West Chicago, hopes to face Sheriff John Zaruba during next fall's general election.
And Wozniak of Naperville entered the Republican primary in an effort to unseat forest preserve Commissioner Linda Painter of Hinsdale.
All three candidates say they will defend the validity of their nomination papers when the county's electoral board reviews the objections. An initial hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at the DuPage County Election Commission office in Wheaton.
"I ran because the public should have a choice," said Wehrli, adding voters would be denied that opportunity if her name is removed from the ballot.
John C. Smith Jr. of West Chicago insists that hundreds of the nearly 2,200 signatures Wehrli collected are invalid. Smith claims he found multiple problems, including addresses without a registered voter, addresses outside the county and names of persons who are not registered as Republican voters.
Wehrli said she personally collected more than the 1,449 signatures needed to get her name on the ballot. The Naperville resident said she questioned everyone she spoke with to make sure they could sign her petition.
"I found without exception that people absolutely value their signature and gave thought to whether they should sign the petition or not," Wehrli said. "So to me, this (challenge) is a slap in the face to the public."
Wozniak needs 193 valid signatures to appear on the ballot as a forest preserve commission candidate for District 3. The district includes all or parts of Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Naperville, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge.
Wozniak said he and a family member collected 290 signatures. "I made sure it was done properly," said Wozniak, who is serving on the College of DuPage board.
But Ralph Stompanato of Darien claims only 163 of the signatures on Wozniak's petition are valid. He said other individuals who signed the document aren't duly qualified, registered and legal voters of District 3.
Meanwhile, Richard Kern of Wheaton is looking to get Quiroz knocked off the ballot by having his entire nomination petition deemed "illegal and void." Kern claims "alterations" were made to multiple pages of the document.
As a Democrat, Quiroz needs 998 signatures to appear on the primary ballot. His petition has 2,679 signatures.
"This is my second go-round," said Quiroz, who lost to Zaruba in the Republican primary in 2010. "I am very versed on what you can and cannot do. Everything I did I did within the statute of the law."
Quiroz said he isn't surprised there's an attempt to remove him from the ballot now that he has switched political parties and is running as a Democrat.
"They know how important it is to eliminate someone at this stage," Quiroz said. "If they can eliminate me now, he (Zaruba) will go unopposed."