Barrington Hills trustee candidate survives effort to knock her off ballot
In a case one attorney said shows how confusing Illinois election law can be, a Barrington Hills trustee candidate on Tuesday defeated an effort to have her removed from the spring ballot, in part over claims she had too many signatures on her nominating petitions.
Barrington Hills' three-member electoral board rejected an objection lodged by Arnold Cernik over the paperwork submitted by trustee hopeful Linda H. Cools. Village President Martin McLaughlin, Clerk Nikki Panos and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan served as the electoral board.
Cernik, a member of the village's advisory zoning board of appeals, contended the number signatures Cools obtained topped the allowable maximum of 104. Cools also was accused of improperly filing her statement of economic interest with the McHenry County clerk instead of in Cook County, where Barrington Hills' village government is headquartered. Barrington Hills cuts across Cook, McHenry, Kane and Lake counties.
On the issue of the signatures, Barrington Hills Village Attorney Sean Conway advised the electoral board he believed a federal case took precedence over an Illinois Supreme Court decision that supported Cernik's objections. The state law case favored removal of the candidate from the ballot.
"Unfortunately -- and I do believe this is an unfortunate circumstance -- the Illinois election code is quite possibly the most confusing of codes in Illinois," Conway said. "And it's unfortunate because those are the rules that candidates are relying on when they're running for office, objectors are relying on when they're making objections."
Cools' attorney, Joseph Vito, cited case law in arguing that Cools did nothing wrong in filing her statement of economic interest in McHenry County instead of Cook County. He also contended there is no harm in exceeding a specific number of signatures.
"To invalidate a candidate's petition because they have too many valid signatures goes completely against the whole purpose of getting signatures, which is to show that you're serious and to show that you at least presented yourself to some voters who will say, 'Hey, you know, I might vote for this person come the April election,'" Vito said.
Cools is among five candidates seeking three 4-year trustee seats in Barrington Hills. Others are incumbents Bryan Croll and Brian Cecola, along with Debra Buettner and Louis Iacovelli.
"I think it's a great day for the residents of the village of Barrington Hills," Cools said after the board's decision. "They have free will in determining who their next trustees will be."