Illinois high court removes Glendale Heights president from April 6 ballot

This story has been updated to state that candidate Mike Ontiveroz's nominating petitions were challenged. According to attorney Andrew Finko, Ontiveroz's petitions were challenged but that challenge was overruled.

Days before Tuesday's election, one of DuPage County's longest-serving village presidents - Glendale Heights Village President Linda Jackson - was removed from the ballot Friday along with one of her opponents, Edward Pope, meaning votes cast for them will not count.

Both Jackson, a five-term incumbent, and Pope faced challenges from Glendale Heights resident Matthew Corbin to their nominating petitions for having fewer registered voter signatures than required by the election code.

On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed an appellate court ruling allowing Jackson and Pope to remain on the ballot. The high court's ruling, which wasn't accompanied by an opinion, leaves the remaining candidates - Chodri Ma Khokhar and Mike Ontiveroz - to vie for village president. While Jackson's and Pope's names still appear on the ballot, votes for them will be thrown out.

At Saturday's informal monthly coffee the Center for Senior Citizens, Jackson said she'll mount a write-in campaign, which she acknowledged is "next to impossible."

"It's up to the people," said Jackson, whose volunteers passed out flyers encouraging voters to write in her name to a handful of supporters at the center. "There's been tremendous support from people who feel their right to choose has been taken away."

Jackson said she will go door to door to get out the write-in vote. "I don't believe the candidates left on the ballot have the same passion for Glendale Heights as I do," she said.

Patrick Bond, attorney for the DuPage County clerk's office, confirmed that Jackson filed notice late Friday declaring herself a write-in candidate.

It's in doubt though whether those votes will count. According to the county's website, candidates must file a notarized declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate with the DuPage County Election Division no later than 61 days before the election.

As for early voters, the clerk's office "has not received any direction from the Supreme Court as to how to handle the votes cast for those candidates removed from the ballot after early voting started," Bond said.

Onetime opponent Pope ended his campaign and threw his support behind Jackson.

"Linda has done a great job. I just thought it was time for a change," he said of his decision to challenge her. He said he and Jackson received incorrect information from the Glendale Heights village clerk about the minimum number of signatures needed on the nominating petitions.

"It was an honest mistake made without malice," he said. "Let the voters decide."

Andrew Finko, Corbin's attorney, said he submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for nominating sheets from all the village president candidates and noted some deficiencies.

"It's the duty of voters to review signatures and nominations and bring defects and deficiencies to the electoral board," Finko said. "Indirectly, there was a benefit to two candidates. But the reality was that the paperwork was deficient."

That Jackson was unaware of the minimum number of signatures required suggests naiveté, said candidate Khokhar, a lawyer and former adjunct professor of criminal justice at College of DuPage.

"This is naive and ignorance of the law on her part," said Khokhar, who successfully defended himself against a petition challenge by Corbin that was initially upheld in circuit court but thrown out by the 2nd District Appellate Court.

Ontiveroz's nominating petitions were challenged but that challenge was overruled, Finko said.

"As I see it, the Supreme Court decision means that regardless of experience or political connections, everyone has to comply with the same minimum standards for ballot access," he said.

Ontiveroz said he's "grateful that Mr. Corbin raised concerns about the validity of Ms. Jackson's and Mr. Pope's nomination papers and their failure to meet the minimum standards set by our legislators in Springfield."

  Linda Jackson, Glendale Heights' five-term mayor running for reelection on April 6, talks with trustee Chester Pojack, center, and resident Mickey Jeneski Saturday at the village's Center for Seniors. On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court removed Jackson and one of her opponents Edward Pope from the ballot following a claim that they did not obtain enough signatures on their nominating petitions. Barbara Vitello/
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