Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Francis Barth, Judge Presiding.
Released for Publication July 21, 1997.
Presiding Justice Hartman delivered the opinion of the court. Hoffman and Hourihane, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hartman
PRESIDING JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Respondents, the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of South Chicago Heights (Board), its individual members, Donald E. Cull, Burton S. Odelson, and Samuel J. Ruffolo, and five candidates (candidates) for public office in South Chicago Heights, appeal the circuit court's decision reversing the Board's ruling that the candidates' names be included on the ballot, and ordering that the candidates' names not appear on the ballots for an approaching consolidated municipal election.
The five candidates - David L. Owen, Melinda Villarreal, Lucian "Big Lou" Bednarek, Joseph M. Kudra, Jr., and John M. Ross, members of a new political party - were candidates for each office to be filled in the Village of South Chicago Heights' elections to be held on April 1, 1997. Each candidate filed a statement of economic interests on December 19, 1996, pursuant to section 4A-105 of the Governmental Ethics Act. 5 ILCS 420/4A-105 (West 1996) (section 4A-105) (Ethics Act). On January 13, 1997, each candidate filed nomination papers pursuant to section 10-5 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-5 (West 1996)) (section 10-5). Petitioner, Jay L. Allord, filed objections to the nominating documents, asserting that each was invalid because the candidates failed to file a statement of economic interests within the calendar year of 1997. Allord also made several other objections, none of which are relevant to this appeal.
Each candidate moved to dismiss Allord's objections, which the Board consolidated at a hearing held on February 3, 1997. In five separate but identical written opinions issued on February 10, the Board granted the candidates' motions and overruled Allord's objections to the nomination papers, finding that the candidates' filing of the statements of economic interests on December 19, 1996, satisfied the requirements of both the Election Code and the Ethics Act.
On February 19, 1997, Allord filed a petition for review in the circuit court, seeking reversal of the Board's decision pursuant to section 10-10.1 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-10.1 (West 1996)), and naming only the Board and its three individual members (collectively Board) as respondents. Allord argued that the Board's decision ignored the plain language of section 10-5 and misinterpreted the scope of section 4A-105.
The Board moved to dismiss Allord's petition pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1996)), urging that the candidates, as well as the Cook County Clerk (Clerk), were necessary parties to the litigation, and the failure to name them in the petition as respondents was a fatal jurisdictional defect because the ten-day limitations period for filing section 10-10.1 administrative review complaints had passed. Allord then moved for leave to add the five candidates as respondents to the petition.
The circuit court denied the Board's motion to dismiss and granted Allord leave to amend his petition. On March 19, 1997, after hearing arguments from the candidates, the Board, and Allord, the court reversed the decision of the Board, holding that because the candidates filed their statements of economic interests before the beginning of the statutory period for filing nomination papers, the filings were insufficient and the candidates' names would not be included on the ballots. The court also denied the candidates' joint motion to dismiss the petition for failure to name the Clerk as a respondent. The Board and the candidates appeal.
Because of the need to render a decision before the impending elections, this court granted appellants' emergency motion to expedite the appeal. On March 27, 1997, we reversed the decision of the circuit court, ruling that the Board's decision in favor of the candidates, and their inclusion on the April 1 ballot, would remain in effect, with a written order or opinion to follow, which we now file.
The Board and candidates contend that the Board's ruling is entitled to deference, and the circuit court exceeded its authority when it determined the proper construction to be given section 10-5 without considering the interpretation of that statute contained in the Board's written findings. Because we dismiss this appeal for ...