DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba will have to campaign to earn re-election now that a county electoral board decision keeps his Democratic opponent in the race.
The board denied an effort to remove Mike Quiroz, a retired DuPage sheriff's deputy, from the March 18 primary ballot before he could face Zaruba during next fall's general election.
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The board on Monday rejected Wheaton resident Richard Kern's claim that Quiroz didn't submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the primary election.
"The most important thing that happened today was allowing the voters to have an opportunity to choose a sheriff that will represent them with respect and accountability," Quiroz said after the hearing.
The 56-year-old West Chicago resident lost to Zaruba in the Republican primary in 2010. He has since switched political parties and is running as a Democrat.
As a Democrat, Quiroz needed 998 signatures to appear on the primary ballot. He submitted a petition containing 2,679 signatures.
"Our campaign volunteers worked very hard obtaining the signatures to be on the ballot," said Quiroz, adding that he expected the nomination petition to be challenged.
Election officials determined that 844 of the signatures on Quiroz's petition were invalid for a variety of reasons. Still, the document contained more than enough valid signatures.
Meanwhile, electoral board members dismissed a claim that most of the nomination petition is "void" because alterations were made to 116 pages of the document.
Election officials said the changes were simply clarifications to help identify where a person who signed the petition lives. The clarifications didn't affect the integrity of petition, the panel ruled.
Kory Atkinson, Kern's attorney, said after the hearing that he planned to speak to his client about whether he wants to file an appeal.
Zaruba is seeking a fifth elected term. After being appointed to the post in 1997, Zaruba was elected to the job in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.
Quiroz served as a DuPage sheriff's deputy from 1979 until he retired in 2003. He now owns two businesses -- a private investigative firm and a company that provides security for executives.