2 to stay on Fox River fire district ballot

Updated 1/12/2017 3:12 PM

Two candidates supported by former trustee James Gaffney will stay on the April ballot for the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District.

The Kane County Electoral Board Thursday overruled objections to candidate petitions of James Wegman and Michael Safranski.


Wegman is seeking a six-year term; Safranski is seeking a two-year term.

The board's vote was unanimous in the Wegman case. Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Hartwell dissented on the Safranski case.

Both cases involved whether Gaffney, who had prepared the petitions and had circulated pages, had filled in parts after signatures were obtained.

And in the Safranski case, objector John Gamboa argued Safranski's failure to indicate whether he was running for a full term or a 2-year term, by circling one of the options, would confuse voters. Gamboa is a district trustee.

Gaffney had written the number "2" in the space.

The petition and state law asks the candidate to specify which term, Hartwell said. Safranski needed to circle one of the options, or cross out one, Hartwell said. "Here he is running for two positions, and I think that is confusing," Hartwell said.

Kane County Clerk Compliance Coordinator Robert Sandner said, however, that "handwriting prevails over printing," and the handwritten "2" was sufficient.

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Gamboa could challenge the decisions in circuit court. He was not at the hearing.

Gaffney was once president of the board. He quit in late 2015, and has criticized the way the current board has run the financially-troubled district.

Gaffney was president when the district decided in 2010 to have its own staff and firehouses, rather than contracting for service with the City of St. Charles and Tri-City Ambulance. At the time the mayor and fire chief of St. Charles predicted the district would fail, saying it couldn't charge enough taxes to provide comparable service.

The district is asking voters in April for permission to increase taxes. In an advisory vote in November, residents pooh-poohed that idea.

It is also considering disbanding.

If the two had been kicked off the ballot, incumbents Tom Mollenhauer and Carl "Rudy" Herout, and newcomer Kristin LeBlanc, would have been unopposed. Gamboa is not seeking re-election.

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