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Requena v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board

March 16, 1998

BERTA REQUENA, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
COOK COUNTY OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD, AND ITS MEMBERS, DAVID ORR, RICHARD DEVINE AND AURELIA PUCINKSI, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES. (ERNEST E. WILEY, JR., OBJECTOR).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 98 CO 27 Honorable Raymond L. Jagielski, judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'mara Frossard

Petitioner Berta Requena appeals from a circuit court order affirming the January 30, 1998, decision by the Cook County Electoral Board (Board) not to permit her name to be placed on the March 17, 1998, Democratic primary ballot for the office of Judge of the circuit court of Cook County to fill the vacancy of the Honorable Gino DiVito. This court considered the matter on an expedited basis and, in a separate order, reversed the Judgement of the circuit court and ordered petitioner's name to be placed on the March 17, 1998, Democratic primary ballot for the office of Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County to fill the vacancy of the Honorable Gino DiVito. Our reasons therefor now follow.

I. FACTS

Petitioner filed nomination papers for the circuit court judicial vacancy for the upcoming primary, including a receipt for the statement of economic interest filed with the Secretary of State pursuant to section 4A-104 of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act (Ethics Act)(5 ILCS 420/4A-104 (West 1994)). Petitioner stated on the statement and corresponding receipt that she was filing for the office of "Circuit Court of Cook County."

Objector Edward Wiley filed a verified petition challenging petitioner's nomination papers with the Board, asserting that the statement did not properly state the office sought and thus the nomination papers were invalid.

After conducting a hearing, the Board sustained Mr. Wiley's objection and did not permit petitioner's name to be placed on the ballot. The Board found that petitioner did not adequately designate the office she sought on her statement of economic interests, as she failed to specify which of the 23 Judgeships on the circuit court of Cook County she sought. The Board noted she listed only "Circuit Court of Cook County" as the office designation on her statement, and found the statement to be inadequate as a matter of law.

On February 18, 1998, the trial court affirmed the Board's decision to keep petitioner's name off the ballot. It is from this order that petitioner appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

The purpose behind the Election Code's requirement that a candidate file a statement of economic interests is to facilitate the public's right to information concerning financial dealings between a candidate and the unit of government in which he or she seeks office. 10 ILCS 5/10-5 (West 1994); Bryant v. Cook County Electoral Board, 195 Ill. App. 3d 556, 553 N.E.2d 25 (1990). In the present case, neither the objector nor the Electoral Board challenges the economic disclosures within petitioner's statement; in fact, petitioner declares no economic interests in her statement.

Rather, the issue is whether petitioner accurately identified the office that she was seeking on the statement of economic interests and, if not, whether removal from the ballot is an appropriate sanction.

Petitioner first contends that her statement of economic interest was correctly filed and that including the phrase "Circuit Court of Cook County" sufficiently described the office she was seeking. We cannot agree.

The document itself explicitly requires a more specific description of the office sought. The statement calls for the following:

"DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY - and office or position of employment for which this statement is filed." The phrase "Circuit Court of Cook County" does not fully indicate what office or position of employment petitioner is seeking and thus is incomplete.

We believe the statement of economic interests should indicate the office she is seeking is that of Judge of the circuit court of Cook County. Ideally, the description should include the vacancy sought by petitioner, in this case, the vacancy of the Honorable Gino DiVito. This would ensure the document ...


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