Mount Prospect slate allowed to stay on April ballot
Terri Gens and Peggy Pissarreck, running as a duo for the Mount Prospect village board, have survived a challenge to their nominating petition.
The ruling could have a long-term impact on Mount Prospect's nonpartisan elections.
The Mount Prospect electoral board, by a 2-1 decision Friday, rejected the challenge to the nominating petition by former Trustee Steven Polit and resident Tom Manion. The board will formalize its decision on Tuesday. Polit and Manion have five days to appeal the decision in circuit court.
Gens and Pissarreck gathered the required signatures by putting both their names on nominating petitions, something not normally seen in Mount Prospect village elections. When challenged, the two said they worked together because they have similar values, but they're not running as a party.
Polit maintains that the candidates are, in effect, a party. In arguing before the electoral board Friday, he contended this violates the village ordinance establishing nonpartisan elections that was enacted after a 2010 binding referendum.
He also argued that it opens the door for three candidates to appear on one petition in future elections.
It could also mean, he said, that candidates by circulating petitions together would, in essence, each need to only collect part of the signatures needed to get on the ballot, while a candidate running alone would still need the full number.
"It hardly seems to be fair and equitable," Polit said, adding that allowing the practice "will turn municipal nonpartisan representative government into dinosaurs."
However, Mayor Arlene Juracek, one of the three on the electoral panel, said the village code is silent on how many names can be on a single petition.
And the attorney for the candidates, former Northfield Township Democratic Committeeman Michael Kreloff, argued the matter was decided by a 2005 case involving the Oak Lawn Municipal Officers Electoral Board that, while not specifically allowing it, does not disallow it. The remedy, Kreloff said, would have to come from the state legislature.
The electoral board's attorney, Tim Lapp, said that, although the petition may be technically wrong, "there is no remedy to say that it is fatal, that these candidates have to be kicked off." The 2005 case is basically the trump card, he said.
Mount Prospect Trustee Paul Hoefert voted to deny the objection, saying, "It's troubling to me, but I don't know if we have any options."
The only dissenting voice on the electoral board was Village Clerk Karen Agoranos, who said, "I feel it sets an unwelcome and dangerous precedent for future elections."
Juracek noted that Mount Prospect's village board has been marked by a nonpartisan character in which arguments have been "of substance, not of political party."
While she agreed the clerk's concerns are valid, she said the remedy is not for the electoral board to prescribe.
"Unless we put some four walls around this," she said, "we could slide inadvertently away from the nonpartisan, trustee at-large, nonpolitical culture and environment and rules that this village has thrived under for so long. But that speaks to future action."