Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 15 COEL 029. Honorable Margarita Kulys-Hoffman, Judge Presiding.
Ken Zurek, Appellant, Pro se, Franklin Park.
For Appellee: Randall K. Petersen, Joseph Cainkar, Louis F. Cainkar, Ltd., Chicago.
For Appellee: Tommy Thompson, Matthew M. Welch, P. Joseph Montana, Montana & Welch LLC, Palos Heights.
JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Palmer and Justice Gordon concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Petitioner Ken Zurek and Vicki Vanderhei and Chris Litwin filed nomination papers with the Village of Franklin Park, Cook County, Illinois, in order to appear as candidates for the office of village trustee on ballots printed for the consolidated election occurring on April 7, 2015. Respondent Randall K. Petersen filed an objector's petition contending that none of the voter petition sheets filed in support of the three candidates met the requirement in section 10-4 of the Election Code that each sheet include a sworn statement from the circulator of the petition specifying the date or dates on which the sheet was circulated. 10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 2012). The candidates then tried to persuade the Franklin Park Municipal Officers Electoral Board (electoral board or board) that it was sufficient for each circulator to have sworn " that all of the signatures on this sheet were signed within the statutory time period for petition circulation." The electoral board rejected this argument and ruled unanimously that the nomination papers were invalid. The candidates sought review in the circuit court of Cook County, which affirmed the board, and then candidate Zurek sought further review by this court. Due to the short period of time between his appeal to this court and the scheduled election on April 7, 2015, we granted Zurek's motion to expedite the appeal, we accelerated the usual briefing schedule, and, after considering the parties' briefs and the record compiled for our review, we issued a short order on April 1, 2015, affirming the board's decision. This opinion provides our reasons for that affirmance.
[¶2] Before addressing the arguments for reversal, we have considered the fact that Zurek, a pro se individual, seeks relief on behalf of himself and the two other candidates. We find that it is not appropriate for us to grant any relief to candidates Vanderhei and Litwin. The notice of appeal and amended notice of appeal associated with this case were submitted by " Petitioner-Appellant Ken Zurek, pro se " and were signed only by Zurek on his own behalf. A notice of appeal (or in this case, a notice and an amended notice) must contain the signature of each appellant or his or attorney. Ill. S.Ct. R. 303(b)(4) (eff. May 30, 2008). Candidates Vanderhei and Litwin did not sign Zurek's notice or amended notice of appeal and they did not file a separate notice of appeal. Zurek is not a licensed attorney and no attorney signed Zurek's notice or amended notice on behalf of the two other candidates. Accordingly, this appeal was
taken by Zurek only on Zurek's behalf only. The board's decision as to the candidacies of Vanderhei and Litwin is not before us and will not be affected by our decision. Coleman v. Akpakpan, 402 Ill.App.3d 822, 824, 932 N.E.2d 184, 186, 342 Ill.Dec. 293 (2010) (when a notice of appeal named only the wife and contained only the wife's signature, then it was an appeal taken by only the wife and not by the wife and husband); People v. Krueger, 146 Ill.App.3d 530, 533, 495 N.E.2d 993, 996, 99 Ill.Dec. 258 (1986) (when a notice of appeal named two appellants but was signed by only one of them, it was an appeal taken by only the one who signed); US Bank, NA v. Avdic, 2014 IL App. (1st) 121759, ¶ 3, n.1, 381 Ill.Dec. 254, 10 N.E.3d 339 (when a notice of appeal named one of four defendants and was signed by an attorney only on behalf of that one defendant, then it was an appeal as to only that one defendant).
[¶3] We now turn to the substantive issues. Where an administrative board's decision has been reviewed by the circuit court, the appellate court reviews the decision of the electoral board, instead of the decision of the court. Pascente v. County Officers Electoral Board, 373 Ill.App.3d 871, 873, 869 N.E.2d 802, 804, 311 Ill.Dec. 789 (2007); Cinkus v. Village of Stickney Municipal Officers Electoral Board, 228 Ill.2d 200, 210, 886 N.E.2d 1011, 1019, 319 Ill.Dec. 887 (2008). When the dispute is over the interpretation of a statute, as it is in this case, then the question is purely one of law and our standard of review is de novo. Cinkus, 228 Ill.2d at 210, 886 N.E.2d at 1018.
[¶4] Shortly after receiving notice of the objector's petition, candidates Zurek, Vanderhei, and Litwin filed with the electoral board a motion to strike and dismiss the objector's petition. Although the electoral board was not persuaded by any of the arguments for dismissal, Zurek repeats them on appeal. Accordingly, we will set out and address each argument in turn.
[¶5] The candidates first argued to the electoral board that Tommy Thomson, Franklin Park's village clerk, filed the objector's petition without first receiving the original and two copies as required by section 10-8 of the Election Code. Pub. Act 98-691 (eff. July 1, 2014) (amending 10 ILCS 5/10-8 (West 2012)). This was the full extent of the argument. The candidates did not specify what occurred when the petition was presented for filing. Section 10-8 states in relevant part, " Any legal voter of the political subdivision or district in which the candidate or public question is to be voted on, *** having objections to any certificate of nomination or nomination papers or petitions filed, shall file an objector's petition together with 2 copies thereof ***. Objection petitions that do not include 2 copies thereof, shall not be accepted." Pub. Act 98-691 (eff. July 1, 2014) (amending 10 ILS 5/10-8 (West 2012)). In their reply brief, the candidates attached an affidavit from Zurek which included the statement, " That based on my experience with the Village Clerk's office it has been their practice to issue a time stamped receipt to the person filing an objector petition indicating the number of copies of the objector's petition filed and to keep said copy for their records."
[¶6] The electoral board convened public hearings on January 12, 2015, January 25, 2015, February 2, 2015, February 9, 2015, and February 12, 2015, regarding the objector's petition and the candidates' motion to dismiss. In its subsequent decision, the electoral board remarked that the candidates failed to provide and had not even asked to introduce written proof or testimony supporting their ...