Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 97-CO-62. Honorable Michael J. Murphy, Judge Presiding.
Rehearing Denied June 16, 1997. Released for Publication June 25, 1997.
The Honorable Justice Theis delivered the opinion of the court. Greiman, P.j., concurs. Zwick, J., concurs in part and dissents in part.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Theis
The Honorable Justice THEIS delivered the opinion of the court:
Petitioner appeals the trial court's ruling affirming the Calumet City Municipal Officers Electoral Board's (Board) refusal to order petitioner's name printed on the ballot for Mayor of Calumet City. Petitioner had been convicted of two felonies. Petitioner claims that the trial court erred in ruling that the Municipal Code prohibited petitioner from running for office. Rather, petitioner argues, the Municipal Code should be read in pari materia with the Election Code which permits ex-felons to run under certain circumstances. For the first time on appeal, petitioner argues that restricting access to the ballot implicates a fundamental right, the right to vote, and that the court must analyze the municipal provision under a strict scrutiny standard. We reject petitioner's claim that the legislature intended to restore a felon's right to run for municipal office. Further, this court cannot accurately assess the constitutionality of the provision without meaningful input from the Attorney General.
James J. Pappas filed nomination papers asserting that he was qualified to hold the office of Mayor in Calumet City, Illinois. However, Pappas had been convicted of two felony offenses. Under the Illinois Municipal Code:
"A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office if that person is in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the municipality or has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony." 65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-5(b) (West 1994).
Accordingly, the Calumet City Municipal Officer's Electoral Board determined that Pappas was not eligible to run for office and that his nomination papers were invalid. See 10 ILCS 5/10-10 (West 1994).
Pappas sought administrative review of the Board's determination. In response to the Board's motion for summary judgment, Pappas argued that section 29-15 of the Election Code permitted ex-felons to run for offices under certain circumstances. The trial court found that the referenced provision did not apply to Pappas bid for a municipal office. In granting the Board's motion, the court further determined that the applicable municipal provision was constitutional under a rational basis analysis.
Pappas then filed an emergency motion for review, arguing that the legislature did not intend for section 3.1-10-5 of the Municipal Code to bar ex-felons from municipal office. The unambiguous language of section 3.1-10-5 is the clearest indication of the legislature's intent. Stone v. Department of Employment Security Bd. of Review, 151 Ill. 2d 257, 602 N.E.2d 808, 176 Ill. Dec. 862 (1992). We find that the plain language of section 3.1-10-5 bars Pappas from holding municipal office.
However, Pappas argues that this court should read the Municipal Code in pari materia with the Election Code and the Uniform Code of Corrections. In pari materia is a tool of statutory construction courts utilize in ascertaining the legislative intent of statutes concerning the same matter. Buckellew v. Board of Education of Georgetown-Ridge Farm Community Unit School Dist. No. 4, 215 Ill. App. 3d 506, 575 N.E.2d 556, 159 Ill. Dec. 58 (1991). The Illinois Supreme Court has stated that:
"It is clear that sections in pari materia should be considered with reference to one another so that both sections may be given harmonious effect. *** Even when in apparent conflict, statutes, insofar as is reasonably possible, must be construed in harmony with one another." United Citizens of Chicago and Illinois v. Coalition to Let the People Decide in 1989, 125 Ill. 2d 332, 339, 531 N.E.2d 802, 804, 126 Ill. Dec. 175 (1988), quoting People v. Maya, 105 Ill. 2d 281, 286-87, 473 N.E.2d 1287, 1290, 85 Ill. Dec. 482 (1985).
Such an interpretation, Pappas claims, will restore his right to run for municipal office. A review of these provisions leads ...