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Powell v. East St. Louis Electoral Board

February 19, 2003

DEBRA POWELL, MARTHA E. YOUNG, MARLENE E. SMOOT, PETITIONERS-APPELLANTS,
v.
THE EAST ST. LOUIS ELECTORAL BOARD; THE BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS FOR THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS AND ITS MEMBERS, BARBARA GREENWOOD, FANNIE G. JONES, AND ELMER D. JONES; AND EDWARD RUSSELL, KAREN CASON, AND EDDIE LEE JACKSON, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. Nos. 03-MR-7, 03-MR-9, & 03-MR-10 Honorable Richard A. Aguirre, Judge, presiding.

Justices: Honorable Thomas M. Welch, J. Honorable Terrence J. Hopkins, P.J., and Honorable Clyde L. Kuehn, J., Concur

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Welch

UNPUBLISHED

Debra Powell, Martha E. Young, and Marlene E. Smoot (petitioners) appeal from an order of the circuit court of St. Clair County affirming the decision of the Board of Election Commissioners of the City of East St. Louis (Board) to invalidate petitioners' nomination papers. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTS

On December 16, 2002, petitioner Powell filed nomination papers for re-election to the office of mayor of the City of East St. Louis, and petitioners Young and Smoot filed for the election to the office of city council, to be voted on at the consolidated primary election on February 25, 2003. On December 20, 2002, Karen Cason, Eddie Lee Jackson, and Edward Russell (respondents) filed objections to petitioner Powell's nomination papers, alleging that petitioner Powell had failed to file, with her nomination papers, a receipt for the filing of a statement of economic interests with the St. Clair County clerk. Respondents Cason and Russell filed objections to the nomination papers of petitioners Young and Smoot, alleging that each candidate had failed to file a statement of economic interests with the St. Clair County clerk and had failed to file, with their nomination papers, a receipt for the filing of a statement of economic interests with the St. Clair County clerk. See 10 ILCS 5/10-8 (West 2000).

On December 30, 2002, Board members and respondents Barbara Greenwood, Fannie Jones, and Elmer D. Jones conducted a public hearing regarding the objections. Before the Board, the parties stipulated that petitioner Powell had filed a statement-of-economic-interests receipt but that the receipt was not file-stamped by the St. Clair County clerk and that petitioners Young and Smoot had each failed to file a statement of economic interests with the St. Clair County clerk. After argument, the Board adjourned the hearings and announced that it would deliberate in a closed session.

On December 31, 2002, the Board sustained the objections to petitioners' nomination papers and ordered that, in the February 25, 2003, election, petitioner Powell's name shall not appear on the ballot as a candidate for mayor and that the names of petitioners Young and Smoot shall not appear on the ballot as candidates for the city council.

Petitioners filed their petitions for the judicial review of the Board's decision, and after a hearing on January 24, 2003, the circuit court affirmed the Board's findings and decision. The circuit court held that the Board's decision was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court also held that in a judicial review proceeding under the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2000)) the circuit court did not have the authority to entertain allegations of violations of the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/1 et seq. (West 2000)). On January 30, 2003, petitioners filed their notices of appeal from the decision of the circuit court.

ANALYSIS

Bolger v. Electoral Board of the City of McHenry

Petitioners assert that in invalidating their nomination papers, the Board abused its discretion, the Board's sanction was overly harsh, the Board's decision was based on precedent that was distinguishable and not controlling, and the Board's decision was abusive because the candidates substantially and in good faith complied with the election laws.

Section 10-5 of the Election Code provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

"If the nomination papers of any candidate and the statement of economic interest of that candidate are not required to be filed with the same officer, the candidate must file with the officer with whom the nomination papers are filed a receipt from the officer with whom the statement of economic interests is filed showing the date on which such statement was filed. Such receipt shall be so ...


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