Petition challenges in local elections can sometimes seem petty and inconsequential.
Too often, one candidate -- or usually a surrogate -- hopes to derail competition by getting a challenger thrown off the ballot for some missing detail on the nominating petitions. And then a local electoral board must weigh in on the picayune squabbling that ensues.
But at least it is known who the candidates and challengers are.
That's not the case in three separate petition challenges this election season that affect four DuPage County communities. And that's why these challenges, in particular, are important vehicles to help voters understand the underlying issues involved.
Here's the situation: Petitions were circulated in Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge seeking signatures to get a referendum on the ballot in April asking if each of those communities should be annexed by the city of Naperville. No one has said publicly they are behind these petitions.
"We're chasing ghosts," said Lisle Mayor Joe Broda. "We need to know who our challengers are."
That should be a given in a case like this. All four mayors of the communities involved say the idea that Naperville would merge with them is remote at best. So, why is someone or some group going to such lengths apparently just to stir up some kind of trouble?
With no other information available, we must agree with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, who said it seems like "a political stunt."
The stunt has forced the towns to file legal objections to the referendum petitions. Have they met the legal threshold for number of signatures? Even if the number appears right, are all the signatures valid? Did petition handlers mislead people into signing? All of these question will be resolved -- at taxpayer expense -- in DuPage County circuit court.
"We have no interest in this proposal," said Warrenville Mayor David Brummel. "We've never had any indication that anyone wanted to be anything else but Warrenville."
"I don't think in any way it reflects our residents," agreed Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham-Picek.
And even if it did, this sort of consolidation effort is likely to cost more and gain nothing for residents, the mayors conclude. Without anyone providing a different scenario, it's hard to argue their points.
Hopefully, these petitions will be summarily rejected and whoever is behind this drive will see what a disruptive distraction it is for residents in these communities who want to focus on more important issues and candidates in their local April elections.