Critic trying to knock Des Plaines mayoral candidate off ballot

A former Des Plaines political candidate has formally objected to a current mayoral hopeful's nominating paperwork in hopes of knocking him off the April 2021 ballot.

Mike Lake, who ran for mayor in 2009 and for 2nd Ward alderman in 2003 and 2007, is targeting Andrew Goczkowski's candidate petitions, saying they weren't properly notarized and contain many invalid signatures.

Goczkowski is the city's 8th Ward alderman and is making his first bid for mayor. He said Lake's allegations are baseless and called his petitions "ironclad."

Goczkowski is one of four mayoral candidates in Des Plaines. The others are 6th Ward Alderman Malcolm Chester, former 4th Ward Alderman Dick Sayad and former 8th Ward Alderman Michael Charewicz.

Term limits prevent Mayor Matthew Bogusz from running again.

Lake's objection was filed Tuesday with the city clerk's office.

He alleges Goczkowski submitted petition sheets that contain names and signatures of people who aren't registered voters in Des Plaines, contain signatures that aren't genuine, contain signatures from people who improperly signed more than one candidate's petition, and weren't properly notarized.

Lake specifically questioned why one notary was used to certify petitions circulated by many volunteers. He alleges the circulators didn't personally appear before the notary.

In response, Goczkowski said his volunteers used one notary because they came to his house to get the important task done in a single, socially distanced event. Goczkowski and the notary visited volunteers who didn't attend to certify the petitions, the candidate said.

"It was all completely aboveboard," Goczkowski said.

As for the legitimacy of the names on the petitions, Goczkowski said he checked their validity before submitting the paperwork.

"I feel pretty confident about that," he said.

A three-member electoral board will consider Lake's objection. A hearing date hasn't been set yet, said Lake's attorney, Robert Porada.

Lake, who once served as chairman of the city's consumer protection commission, has been a local activist for many years.

In 2004, he was part of a successful referendum effort that changed Des Plaines to a council-manager form of government. He also campaigned to end the city's ward system.

In 2016, Lake objected to the petitions for an advisory referendum asking if elected officials should get health and dental insurance. The question was pulled from the ballot before a hearing was held.

Lake denied his objection to Goczkowski's paperwork is politically motivated.

"Hell no," Lake said. "I want to know that it was done correctly."

Porada is no stranger to Des Plaines politics, either.

He is a former member of the city's zoning board of appeals and a former aldermanic candidate.

While running for 7th Ward alderman in 2017, Porada unsuccessfully tried to get incumbent Don Smith knocked off the ballot. Smith eventually won reelection.

That same year, Porada represented 1st Ward candidate Mark Lysakowski when Lysakowski and fellow candidate Steven Mokry unsuccessfully tried to get each other removed from the ballot. Lysakowski went on to win the seat.

Additionally, he was Lake's attorney when Lake objected to the referendum petitions in 2016.

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