DuPage forest preserve board hopeful removed from the ballot

Updated 12/23/2019 7:19 PM

A hyphen cost a candidate for DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioner a spot on the March primary ballot.

Natalie Rose Shannon-DiCianni of Elmhurst earlier this month entered the race to seek the Democratic nomination for the District 2 seat on the forest preserve board. But the county's electoral board on Monday voted to remove her from the ballot because of the hyphen she used in her name in her nominating papers.


It turns out "Shannon" is DiCianni's nickname. And the electoral board ruled that state law doesn't allow candidates to use hyphens to connect their nicknames and last names.

"The surname is the most significant part of the candidate's name," said county Clerk Jean Kaczmarek, who serves as chairwoman of the three-person electoral board. "The surname is the one thing that must be right.

"A denial of ballot access should never be taken lightly," Kaczmarek added. "However, ballot access is dependent on the candidate complying with Illinois state election law. Shannon hyphen DiCianni is a false surname."

Natalie DiCianni didn't attend the hearing, but her father -- county board member Pete DiCianni -- was there. When it was over, the Elmhurst Republican said his daughter is expected to appeal the ruling in circuit court. He said she has used the hyphen in her name before.

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In a statement emailed Monday evening, Natalie DiCianni said public service "is in my blood and it has become something I'm very passionate about. I was elected 2019's Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans Columbus Day Queen using my experience with community service as my platform. I enjoy giving back to others and listening to their needs.

"I'm disappointed to have been denied ballot access as a Democratic candidate for DuPage County's District 2 Forest Preserve seat, but I am hopeful, that after winning 17 of 18 objections filed all of which had no basis, the remaining objection challenging the use of a long time nickname as part of my balloted name will also be thrown out in Circuit Court. I'm proud of my heritage from both sides of the family, and as a lifelong DuPage County resident, I was thrilled to represent multiple cultures as I served the Chicagoland community as Columbus Day Queen. I trust the decision will be overturned and the voters of DuPage County will be able to choose the candidate who best represents them."

Natalie DiCianni's paperwork originally was challenged by Jacalynn West of Lisle.

If the electoral board's decision stands, Tina Tyson-Dunne of Lombard will run unopposed in the Democratic primary and face Karen Kelly, a Republican from Downers Grove. The District 2 seat currently is held by Republican Jeff Redick, who isn't running.

District 2 includes all or portions of Addison, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.


Meanwhile, two Republican candidates will have their names appear on the March 17 primary ballot after the electoral board overruled objections to their nominating petitions.

Wheaton Republican Babette Holder Youngberg survived a challenge of her petitions to remain in the county recorder race.

Objector Mark Tarnowski of Wheaton said the candidate didn't start including her maiden name "Holder" until recently. But the electoral board ruled that doesn't matter.

"The candidate has fulfilled one of the two circumstances for the legal use of a double surname: through marriage," Kaczmarek said,

Holder Youngberg will face Ron Almiron of Wheaton in the contest to decide the GOP nominee for the recorder seat held by Republican Fred Bucholz, who is retiring. Democrat Kathleen Carrier of Carol Stream is running unopposed for her party's nomination.

"I'm ecstatic that I get to stay on the ballot," Holder Youngberg said. "I'm using a birth name and a married name. The public can now look me up by both names."

Almiron, who is an attorney, represented Tarnowski during the hearing. Almiron said afterward that he and his client have yet to decide if they will appeal the ruling.

Finally, a Wheaton attorney survived a challenge to stay in the race to replace an ousted DuPage circuit court judge.

Richard D. Felice was chosen by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill Patrick O'Shea's former post until Dec. 7, 2020. Now Felice wants to become the Republican nominee for the position.

Other Republicans in the race are Greg Abbott of Woodridge, John Joseph Pcolinski Jr. of Naperville and Richard J. "Rick" Veenstra of Wood Dale. Democrats seeking their party's nomination for the post are Azam Nizamuddin of Bloomingdale and David Guy Stevens of Naperville.

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