East Dundee candidate's petitions challenged

The smell of revenge is wafting through East Dundee this election season. A candidate taken off the 2009 ballot after an objection to his trustee petition has filed his own objection to the current board member who spoke out against him two years ago.

Patrick Clarke is running for trustee for the second time. His candidacy was cut short last year when he was held responsible for a filing mistake — Clarke bound his petition with a clip instead of a staple.

Now Clarke is objecting to current trustee Jeff Lynam's petition because Lynam did not circle that he was running for a “full-term” rather than a “vacancy” on one of his signature pages.

“Everyone is human and makes mistakes that I would be willing to overlook on everybody but Lynam,” Clarke said. “It'll be interesting to see where it all ends up.”

Lynam said his mistake and Clarke's were different. He said Clarke's lack of a staple meant his petition packet could be tampered with — forms could be turned in late and added to his packet unbeknown to election authorities.

“It's just payback and I fully expected it,” Lynam said.

Lynam — along with Trustee John Cichowski and Dan Selep, two other candidates who have objections filed against them — will defend himself before the East Dundee electoral board at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the village board room in Village Hall, 120 Barrington Road.

Village President Jerry Bartels, Trustee Paul VanOstenbridge and Village Clerk Jennifer Rehberg comprise the electoral board. Their decision is not final and can be appealed, if any side wants to incur legal fees.

Clarke also filed an objection against another opponent, Dan Selep, claiming Selep forged several signatures in his packet.

Selep said when asked by more than one woman if she could sign for her husband, he said yes, unaware of the problem. He now hopes those names can be stricken from his signature list without compromising his candidacy.

A woman named Angela Rebolo filed an objection against Trustee John Cichowski's petition, claiming 10 of the signatures came from people who are not registered voters at the addresses they provided. Rebolo also objected because Cichowski stapled his packet in the upper left corner, rather than the center.

Cichowski said many of the people who signed his petition have lived in the community for decades. He said he tried his best getting enough signatures even though he was rushed because of incorrect filing dates distributed by the village. Cichowski thought he had until the middle of January to turn in his packets, but he found out on Dec. 13 the deadline was one week away.

Ultimately, Cichowski said the objections are only serving to deny people the right to vote.

“They don't want the community to have a choice,” Cichowski said.

The fourth and final objection was also filed against Lynam by Allison Clarke, Pat Clarke's wife. She claims Lynam owes East Dundee money for computer reimbursement expenses, a situation which would make Lynam ineligible for office.

Lynam referred to a 2007 dispute when four trustees were asked to return $300 to the village for computer reimbursements Bartels said they shouldn't have received.

Lynam said the confusion was cleared up just a couple weeks later by a change in wording in the ordinance in question and none of the four trustees paid the money back.

But Lynam said he has no hope facing Bartels on the electoral board for a cause that was “near and dear” to his heart. And if that doesn't seal his fate, Lynam does not think he'll get any leeway from Bartels about the “full-term” vs. “vacancy” technicality.

“If Illinois election law says you absolutely have to have it circled, well I'll take my medicine,” Lynam said. “I screwed up. But if there's any latitude that is offered to the people on the election panel, that latitude is not going to be offered to me.”

Bartels said he would rather let the residents make the decision between candidates, but acknowledged a precedent had been set in the last election when Clarke was taken off the ballot. He said the electoral board would weigh evidence presented by objectors, candidates and the village attorney to make its decision.

The candidates who will defend their petitions on Monday have the option of running as write-in candidates if the objections are sustained.

Jeff Lynam