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Atkinson v. Roddy

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 4, 2013

KORY ATKINSON, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
ROBERT D. RODDY; CARRIE DAHLSTROM; THE VILLAGE OF ROSELLE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS' ELECTORAL BOARD; BARBARA HOCHSTADT, Member; KEVIN MILLON, Member; GAYLE SMOLINSKI, Chairperson; THE DU PAGE COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION; and THE COOK COUNTY CLERK, Respondents-Appellees.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 13-MR-124 Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding.

Justices Birkett and Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

McLAREN JUSTICE

¶ 1 Petitioner, Kory Atkinson, appeals from an order of the trial court affirming the decision of the Village of Roselle Municipal Officers' Electoral Board (Board). The Board overruled objections to the nomination papers of Robert D. Roddy and Carrie Dahlstrom (Candidates), candidates for the office of trustee of the Village of Roselle (Roselle) in the April 9, 2013, election. This court granted petitioner's motion to accelerate the appeal. For the reasons that follow, we dismiss in part and affirm in part.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The following facts are not contested. Roselle is located in, and has electors who reside in, both Du Page and Cook counties. The principal office of Roselle is located in Du Page County. The Candidates timely filed with the Roselle election official, the Roselle clerk, nomination papers for the office of trustee of Roselle in order to have their names appear on the ballot in the April 9, 2013, consolidated election. Attached to each of the Candidates' nomination papers were receipts indicating that the Candidates had filed their statements of economic interests with the Cook County clerk. Also attached to each of the Candidates' nomination papers were complete copies of their statements of economic interests, which indicated when and where their statements were filed with the Cook County clerk.

¶ 4 Petitioner filed objections to the Candidates' nomination papers, arguing that their names should not appear on the ballot because they failed to file their statements of economic interests with the Du Page County clerk.

¶ 5 During the Board hearing, Roddy testified as follows. Roddy lived in the Cook County part of Roselle. As a prospective candidate, he had received a letter from the Roselle clerk's office. At the bottom of the page was an instruction to "consult the Du Page County Election Commission website." The letter also referred to "Cook County." "That [made] for some confusion, especially for people who live in the Cook [C]ounty part of Roselle." For clarification, Roddy called the Roselle clerk, who told him, "since you live in Cook County, you file in Cook County." She also told Roddy to call the Cook County Board of Elections. When Roddy called that office, he was told that Roselle was a "split-county town" and "[y]ou live in Cook, you file in Cook." Relying on that advice, Roddy filed his statement of economic interests with the Cook County clerk.

¶ 6 Candidate Dahlstrom testified that to determine where she should file her statement of economic interests she called the "Cook County Election Commission's office" and was also told that, because she resided in the portion of Roselle located in Cook County, she should file her statement with the Cook County clerk. Dahlstrom followed that advice.

¶ 7 The Board found that the Candidates filed their statements of economic interests in the wrong county but that the Candidates "met the test of substantial compliance with the required filing of the Statement[s] of Economic Interests, in that the Statement[s] [were] filed within the time set forth by law, and the entire Statement[s] of Economic Interests, along with the Receipt[s], [were] part of the Nominating Papers filed." The Board determined that "the intent and purpose of the requirement of the Statement of Economic Interests, that is, to disclose financial dealings between the Candidate and the unit of government in which he seeks office, was clearly satisfied." The Board also determined that the designation of the office in which the statements were filed put the public on notice of where to locate the information concerning the Candidates' dealings with Roselle, and that the statements were available for public examination and copying at both the Roselle clerk's office and at the Cook County clerk's office. The Board overruled petitioner's objections and ordered that the Candidates' names be included on the April 9, 2013, ballot. On February 7, the trial court affirmed the Board's decision. On February 13, petitioner filed a notice of appeal.

¶ 8 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 9 As a preliminary matter, we must address the issue of mootness. This court lacks jurisdiction of issues that are moot. See Chand v. Patla, 342 Ill.App.3d 655, 660 (2003). A case on appeal becomes moot when it is impossible for the reviewing court to grant the complaining party meaningful relief. Cinkus v. Village of Stickney Municipal Officers Electoral Board, 228 Ill. 2D 200, 207-08 (2008).

¶ 10 In this case, the date for the election has passed and both Roddy and Dahlstrom were included on the ballot as candidates for the office of Roselle trustee. Roddy lost the election and Dahlstrom won. Because we are unable to grant petitioner any meaningful relief regarding Roddy, we determine that this appeal is moot as to him. Accordingly, we dismiss petitioner's appeal as to Roddy.

¶ 11 Judicial review of an electoral board's decision is considered to be administrative review. Jackson v. Board of Election Commissioners, 2012 IL 111928, ¶ 46. On appeal in such a case, we review the decision of the Board, not the determination of the trial court. Id. As in the present case, where the facts are not in dispute but there is a dispute as to whether the governing legal provisions were interpreted correctly by the ...


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