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posted: 12/24/2013 5:30 AM

DuPage panel allows Wehrli to stay on forest ballot

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  • Mary Lou Wehrli

    Mary Lou Wehrli

  • Joe Cantore

    Joe Cantore


Mary Lou Wehrli's campaign to become the next president of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District is moving forward after a failed attempt to have her kicked off the March primary ballot.

The county electoral board on Monday determined that Wehrli, a Naperville Republican, has more than enough valid signatures to remain on the March 18 ballot.

As a result, the forest preserve commissioner will continue her bid to replace President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr., who is retiring.

Wehrli's opponent in the GOP primary will be fellow board member Joe Cantore of Oak Brook.

"The voters won today," Wehrli said Monday.

John C. Smith Jr. of West Chicago tried to argue that hundreds of the 2,211 signatures Wehrli collected are invalid.

Smith claimed 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.

When DuPage County Election Commission staff members reviewed Wehrli's paperwork, they found problems with 333 signatures. But that still left Wehrli with 1,878 valid signatures.

It didn't take long on Monday for the electoral board to decide Wehrli had more than the 1,449 signatures she needed to stay on the ballot.

Smith's attorney, James P. Nally, didn't challenge the findings made by the election commission staff when they were announced during the hearing.

"The process took its course," Nally said after the hearing.

"We raised legitimate objections, and after review there weren't quite enough of them to get where we needed to go."

Wehrli personally collected most of the signatures on her petition.

She said she questioned everyone she spoke with to make sure they could sign the document.

On Monday, Wehrli called the objections to the signatures she gathered "capricious."

"I believe the intent was to deny voters a choice and to harass my candidacy," she said. "I'm glad that the voters are going to get to see Mary Lou Wehrli on the ballot in March."

So far, no Democrat is slated to run for forest preserve president in the November general election.

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