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URY v. SANTEE

August 25, 1969

BERNARD E. URY, LOUIS GOTTLIEB, ALAN SHOR AND JAMES M. GILMORE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KENNETH SANTEE, JAMES A. SCHWIETERT, THELMA B. SIMON, ROBERT MCHUGH, WILLIAM C. ORTH, JAMES REICHMANN, FRANK FERNHOLZ, LORENE BURGHART, J. KROY OSTERGAARD, LEMUEL H. TATE AND RUSSELL B. JOSEPH, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Napoli, District Judge.

  FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

This cause having come on for hearing on the merits of the complaint and answers thereto, the court has considered the evidence, the defendants' motion to dismiss and the plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition thereto, and the arguments of counsel, and, being fully advised in the premises, finds that it has jurisdiction of the parties hereto and the subject matter hereof, finds the facts as follows and states the following conclusions of law thereon:

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Plaintiffs are citizens of the United States of America and are residents of the Village of Wilmette, State of Illinois, and were, on April 15, 1969, duly registered and qualified to vote in an election held on April 15, 1969, for the offices of President of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, three members of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, and Clerk of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, and for separate referenda relating to a fire protection tax, police protection tax, street lighting bond issue and adoption of a council-manager form of government.

2. Defendant Kenneth Santee is a resident of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, and on February 4, 1969, and to and including the date hereof, was and is President of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois. Defendants James A. Schwietert, Thelma B. Simon, Robert McHugh, William C. Orth, James Reichmann and Frank Fernholz are residents of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, and on February 4, 1969, and to and including the date hereof, were and are members of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois. Defendant Lorene Burghart is a resident of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, and on February 4, 1969, and to and including the date hereof, was and is Clerk of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois. Defendants J. Kroy Ostergaard, Lemuel H. Tate and Russell B. Joseph are also residents of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois and were purportedly elected to the office of trustee on April 15, 1969.

3. At all Village of Wilmette elections for at least 20 years prior to the election of April 15, 1969, only a single slate of candidates has been set forth on the ballots for the election of Village officers. In each such election, candidates for Village offices had been selected under a caucus system by a non partisan convention. In the past 20 years, the only contest had been a write-in campaign for Village President in 1959. All other Village elections were uncontested. Prior to the election of April 15, 1969, there had been no election for Village officers in which there were two competing political parties which presented competing slates of candidates for election to Village offices.

5. In March, 1965 and March, 1967, the Village Board of Trustees passed ordinances consolidating the number of precincts for the Village elections of April, 1965 and April, 1967, respectively, into six precincts and providing for only five judges at each of such six consolidated precincts. This was done for reasons of economy. The six precincts were located at the following schools in Wilmette, Illinois:

1. Central School

2. St. Francis School

3. Howard Jr. High School

4. Harper School

5. Romona Jr. High School

6. Loyola Academy.

In establishing the boundaries of the six consolidated precincts, the Village Board of Trustees made such precincts comparatively equal in geographical area, but such precincts were substantially unequal in terms of numbers of registered voters included in each precinct. The Village elections of April, 1965 and April, 1967 were both uncontested elections.

6. On February 4, 1969, the defendants, Kenneth Santee, James A. Schwietert, Thelma B. Simon, Robert McHugh, William C. Orth, James Reichmann and Frank Fernholz, acting in their respective official capacities as President and Members of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois adopted a resolution authorizing the combining of the precincts for the forthcoming Village Election on April 15, 1969, from 32 into 6.

7. Prior to February 4, 1969 and since December, 1968, the Village caucus, known as the Harmony Convention, had been actively engaged in interviewing and selecting proposed nominees to be presented to the caucus for adoption of a single slate of candidates to be placed on the ballot of the April 15, 1969 Village election.

8. On or about January 27, 1969, defendant Schwietert advised the Harmony Convention that a second party was being formed and that a hard campaign would be waged. On or about January 30, 1969, a political party opposing the Harmony Convention was organized, known as the United Party. The United Party proposed a slate of candidates headed by defendant Schwietert for Village President. On January 31, 1969 defendant Schwietert and the other candidates signed loyalty oaths indicating their intention to become candidates of the United Party. The formation of the United Party and its intention to make the election a contested election was publicized in the local press, in particular in the February 3, 1969 issue of Wilmette Life, in which the United Party listed its slate of candidates and officers. Prior to February 4, 1969, defendants knew or should have known that the United Party had been organized with the intention of offering the people an alternative to the candidates of the Harmony Convention.

9. On February 4, 1969 the defendant Burghart, acting in her capacity as Village Clerk, recommended to the Board of Trustees that the precincts for the April 15, 1969 election be consolidated from 32 to six in the interests of economy. The suggestion was approved by the Board as above mentioned.

10. On February 7, 1969, the United Party filed with the Village Clerk its nominating petition setting forth a complete slate of candidates to be placed on the ballot for the April 15, 1969 Village election. On February 10, 1969, the Harmony Convention, which designated itself as the 1969 Harmony Party, filed its nominating petition setting forth a complete slate of candidates to be placed on the ballot for the April 15, 1969 Village election.

12. On February 18, 1969, Ordinance No. 69-0-6 was presented to the Village Board. Such ordinance provided for the Village election to be held on April 15, 1969, dividing Wilmette into the same six precincts that had been set up in the uncontested elections of April, 1965 and April, 1967. There was no discussion by the Board at this meeting as to the effect of such consolidation.

13. On March 4, 1969, Ordinance No. 69-0-6 was adopted unanimously by the Board, again without discussion. No consideration was given by the Board at this meeting, or at any prior meeting, as to the effect of consolidation of 32 precincts into six precincts in a contested election, and no consideration was given as to the numbers of voters assigned to the respective precincts, the possibility of inequality of the number of voters in the precincts, the numbers of voters likely to vote at the forthcoming contested election, the number of judges ...


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