Longtime Glendale Heights president takes election fight to federal court
Glendale Heights on Thursday night was poised to swear in a new village president for the first time in more than 20 years.
But the election that made Chodri Khokhar village president is not over in the eyes of two other candidates, including the longtime incumbent, Linda Jackson.
Mike Ontiveroz has requested a partial recount of the official results from the April 6 election that show Khokhar defeating him by only two votes.
And Jackson, who had served as village president since 1999, has filed a federal lawsuit after her reelection bid was cut short because the Illinois Supreme Court removed her name from the ballot.
The final vote total showed Khokhar with 475 votes and Ontiveroz with 473.
However, Ontiveroz asked to have votes examined in up to 25% of the precincts in the race.
The process - called a discovery recount - is conducted to help candidates determine if there are enough discrepancies to seek a court order for a complete recount.
The county clerk will start the discovery recount on Friday.
Meanwhile, Jackson and two voters - Michael Fain and Gloria Woldeit - argue in a lawsuit filed on April 21 that their federal constitutional rights were violated during the election.
They claim DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek applied state election law in a way that violated their First Amendment free speech right because it interfered with their ability to express their choice for village president. They also argue the clerk's actions violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
In addition, the plaintiffs claim their state constitutional rights were violated.
The Illinois Supreme Court removed Jackson and another candidate, Ed Pope, from the ballot on April 2, agreeing with a Glendale Heights resident's claim that they didn't submit enough registered voters' signatures on their candidate petitions. Pope ended his campaign and threw his support behind Jackson, saying he and Jackson received incorrect information from the Glendale Heights village clerk about the number of signatures required.
Jackson immediately filed a declaration to be a write-in candidate with the clerk's office. But the clerk contended that it was too late under state law.
And since ballots were already printed, the clerk received permission from the court to not tabulate any votes for Jackson or Pope, or include results in the official canvass.
Jackson encouraged Glendale Heights voters to write her name on the ballot anyway. She also asked the state Supreme Court to rehear her case, but the court refused.
Patrick Bond, attorney for the clerk's office, said Kaczmarek had no choice but to apply state law as written and to follow the high court's order. The Illinois attorney general's office will have to defend the constitutionality of the law, Bond said.
Khokhar, meanwhile, remains undaunted.
"I don't think Linda Jackson has a good cause of action," he said. "I'm not afraid of any lawsuit."
Attempts to reach Jackson and Ontiveroz Thursday were unsuccessful.