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Wilson v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for City of Calumet City

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

June 5, 2013

BRIAN WILSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
THE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD FOR THE CITY OF CALUMET CITY, Thaddeus Jones, Substitute Chairman, and Members, Magdalena J. Wosczynski and Nyota T. Figgs; NYOTA T. FIGGS in Her Capacity as City Clerk; DAVID ORR, in His Capacity as Cook County Clerk; and Objectors DEBORAH HAYNES-SHEGOG, STEVEN GRANT, and HOPE ALLEN, Defendants-Appellees.

Rule 23 Order filed April 24, 2013

Rule 23 Order withdrawn May 31, 2013

Held [*]

Defendant electoral board’s decision that plaintiff’s nomination papers for the office of mayor in a primary election were invalid was affirmed by the appellate court where the board did not err in refusing to consider signatures beyond the maximum number of signatures allowed under its rules, and when deductions were made from the maximum number of signatures for the signatures obtained by a person who circulated petitions for plaintiff as an independent candidate for mayor and as a Democratic candidate for alderman, in violation of a rule prohibiting a person from circulating petitions for candidates for more than one party or an independent candidate and a candidate from a political party, plaintiff lacked sufficient signatures to be allowed on the ballot.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Nos. 13-COEL-56, 13-, COEL-57, 13-COEL-58; Hon. Maureen Ward Kirby, Judge, presiding.

Jawor Law Firm, of Bolingbrook (John J. Jawor, of counsel), for appellant.

Odelson & Sterk, Ltd., of Evergreen Park (Burton S. Odelson and Matthew M. Welch, of counsel), and James P. Nally, PC, of Chicago (James P. Nally, of counsel), for appellees.

Panel JUSTICE STERBA delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Neville and Justice Hyman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

STERBA, JUSTICE

¶ 1 Plaintiff-appellant Brian Wilson filed nomination papers for the office of mayor of Calumet City as a member of the Democratic party for the consolidated primary election scheduled to be held on February 26, 2013. After objections were filed to Wilson's candidacy, Wilson withdrew his candidacy. Wilson subsequently filed nomination papers for the same office as an independent candidate for the consolidated election to be held on April 9, 2013. Objections were again filed to Wilson's candidacy and, following a public hearing, the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City (Board) found that Wilson's nominating papers were invalid because he did not have the required minimum number of signatures and because section 7-43(f) of the Illinois Election Code (Code) (Pub. Act 97-681 (eff. Mar. 30, 2012) (amending 10 ILCS 5/7-43(f) (West 2010))) prohibits a candidate from running as a member of the Democratic party and as an independent candidate in the same election cycle. The circuit court affirmed the Board's findings. On appeal, Wilson contends that the circuit court erred in affirming the Board's findings because (1) the Board's rule relating to signatures submitted in excess of the maximum allowed is arbitrary and unconstitutional, (2) there is no prohibition against a voter signing a nominating petition for a party in the primary and then signing a petition for an independent candidate for the same office in the same election, (3) there is no prohibition against an individual circulating nominating petitions for a party candidate in a consolidated primary and then for an independent candidate in a consolidated election, and (4) the provisions of section 7-43(f) do not apply to consolidated primaries and consolidated elections. On April 3, 2013, this court entered a brief order affirming the judgment of the circuit court. The order stated that an opinion or order of the court would follow at a later date. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 On November 19, 2012, Wilson filed nominating papers, including a statement of candidacy indicating his desire to have his name placed on the ballot as a Democratic candidate for the office of mayor of Calumet City for the February 26, 2013, consolidated primary election. Objections to Wilson's candidacy were filed, in part on the grounds that he did not pay real estate transfer taxes to Calumet City on certain real estate transactions. A hearing was scheduled for December 21, 2012; however, Wilson withdrew his candidacy. On December 26, 2012, Wilson filed another set of nominating papers, including a statement of candidacy indicating his desire to have his name placed on the ballot as an independent candidate for the office of mayor of Calumet City for the April 9, 2013, consolidated election. Objections to Wilson's candidacy were again filed by Deborah Haynes-Shegog, Steven Grant, and Hope Allen, on the grounds that Wilson did not have sufficient signatures, that candidates are prohibited from switching from an established political party to independent status in the same election cycle, and that Wilson owed Calumet City penalties and interest for the late payment of real estate transfer taxes.

¶ 4 The Board held public hearings on the petitions of all three objectors on January 14 and February 8, 12, and 18, 2013. Because the issues raised by objectors Haynes-Shegog and Grant were identical, the Board consolidated those petitions and issued a single written decision in response to those petitions on February 18, 2013. The Board also issued a written decision in response to the petition filed by Allen on February 18, 2013. However, the issue raised by Allen was also raised by Haynes-Shegog and Grant; therefore, the Board's decision on the Allen petition contains identical language and findings to the language on that issue in the Haynes-Shegog and Grant decision. Thus, for purposes of this appeal, we will provide the details of the Board's decision in response to the Haynes-Shegog and Grant petitions.

ΒΆ 5 The Board noted that, pursuant to section 10-3 of the Code (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2010)) and based on the number of ballots cast in the previous consolidated election, candidates for the April 9, 2013, consolidated election were required to submit a minimum of 257 signatures and must not file more than 410 signatures. The Board found that Wilson filed 522 signatures. The Board followed its rule for enforcing the maximum signature limit and invalidated all signatures in excess of the first 410. Because section 10-4 of the Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 2010)) prohibits a petition circulator from circulating petitions for an independent candidate in addition to a candidate for an established political party, the Board invalidated petition sheets that were circulated by Danny Williams, who also circulated petitions for a Democratic candidate, resulting in 56 invalid signatures. The Board accepted the results of the record examination by the Cook County clerk invalidating 112 signatures. The Board invalidated an additional 135 signatures of individuals who had previously signed petitions for ...


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