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Ervin v. Alsberry

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

March 17, 2017

NKYIA ERVIN, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
VERNARD L. ALSBERRY, JR., Candidate for President, ISAAC R. WISEMAN, Candidate for Clerk, KEVIN MOORE, SR., Candidate for Trustee, MARLON D. RIAS, Candidate for Trustee, JAVA ROGERS, Candidate for Trustee, ROBERICK S. BASHIR, Candidate for President, JACQUELINE B. OWENS, Candidate for Clerk, DEIDRE M. DYER, Candidate for Trustee, LEE FANTROY, Candidate for Trustee, PATRICIA JACKSON, Candidate for Trustee, MUNICIPAL OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD FOR THE VILLAGE OF HAZEL CREST, VERNARD L. ALSBERRY, JR. (Chairman), KEVIN MOORE, SR. (Chairman), THOMAS A. JACONETTY (Chairman), MARLON D. RIAS (Member), SUSAN PATE (Member), JUNE BROWN (Member), and JASON GUISINGER (Member), Respondents-Appellees,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 17 COEL 15 Honorable Margarita T. Kulys Hoffman, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          PIERCE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Nkyia Ervin filed a petition in the circuit court seeking judicial review of multiple electoral board decisions overruling her objections to the nomination petitions by various candidates in the upcoming Consolidated Election. The circuit court dismissed the petition, and Ervin appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Nkyia Ervin objected to two nominating petitions for ten candidates seeking election to various positions in the Village of Hazel Crest (the Village) by filing ten separate objection petitions, one for each of the ten candidates. Five of those candidates filed a single joint nomination petition as a slate of candidates for the Hazel Crest United Party. Those candidates are: Vernard Alsberry, Jr., the current Village president, seeking re-election; Marlon Rias, candidate for trustee; Kevin Moore, current Village trustee seeking re-election; Isaac Wiseman, candidate for Village clerk; and Java Rogers, candidate for trustee. Five other candidates filed a single joint nomination petition as a slate of candidates for the Hazel Crest New Leadership Party. Those candidates are: Roderick Bashir, candidate for Village President; Patricia Jackson, candidate for trustee; Lee Fantroy, candidate for trustee; Deidre Dyer, candidate for trustee; and Jacqueline B. Owens, candidate for Village clerk.

         ¶ 4 Pursuant to section 10-9(3) of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-9(3) (West 2016)), the Village was obligated to constitute an electoral board composed of the Village president, the clerk, and one member of the board of trustees eligible to serve on the electoral board who had served the greatest number of years as a trustee. Four separate boards were constituted, but the Village attorney recognized that there were conflicts between the composed boards and the various candidates. Pursuant to section 10-9 of the Election Code, the Village attorney requested that the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County appoint three members of the public to hear three of Ervin's objections. The Village attorney separately requested that the circuit court appoint two members of the public to hear five other objections raised by Ervin and another objector. The circuit court entered orders appointing members of the public to serve on the electoral boards as requested.

         ¶ 5 The first electoral board was composed of Alsberry, Rias, and Susan Pate, the most senior trustee (first electoral board), and was constituted to hear Ervin's objections to the nomination petitions filed on behalf of Wiseman (case no. 17 EB-1) and Owens (case no. 17 EB-2). Ervin objected to both candidates on the grounds that they were indebted to the Village at the time the nomination petitions were filed, and that the arrearages disqualified Wiseman and Owens. Specifically, Ervin alleged that Wiseman owed the Village at least $750 in fines for a ticket for an inoperable motor vehicle issued in 2007, and that Owens owed at least $200 in fines for a ticket for a red light violation issued in 2011.

         ¶ 6 The second electoral board was composed of Moore, Rias, and Pate (second electoral board), and was constituted to hear Ervin's objections to the nomination petitions filed on behalf of Alsberry (the incumbent Village President seeking re-election) (case no. 17 EB-3) and Bashir (a candidate for Village President) (case no. 17 EB-7). Ervin objected to Alsberry on the grounds that: (1) he failed to file a statement of economic interests, (2) because Wiseman was not qualified for office, Alberry's candidacy was invalid, and (3) even if Alsberry could potentially stay on the ballot as independent candidate, the nominating petition contained less than the statutory minimum number of signatures required by statute. Ervin objected to Bashir on the grounds that Owens' candidacy was invalid, and that even if Bashir could potentially stay on the ballot as independent candidate, the nominating petition contained less than the statutory minimum number of signatures required by section 10-3 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2016)).

         ¶ 7 The third electoral board was composed of Thomas Jaconetty, June Brown, and Jason Guisinger (third electoral board), all of whom were public members appointed by the circuit court, to hear Ervin's objections to the nomination petitions filed on behalf of Rias (case no. 17 EB-4), Moore (case no. 17 EB-5), and Rogers (case no. 17 EB-6). Ervin objected to each candidate for trustee on the grounds that because Wiseman was not a qualified candidate for Village clerk, Rias, Moore, and Rogers were not valid candidates for trustee, and that even if Rias, Moore, and Rogers could potentially stay on the ballot as independent candidates, the nominating petition contained less than the statutory minimum number of signatures required by section 10-3 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2016)).

         ¶ 8 The fourth electoral board was composed of Alsberry, Jaconetty, and Brown (fourth electoral board), and was constituted to hear Ervin's objections to the nomination petitions filed on behalf of Jackson (case no. 17 EB-8), Fantroy (case no. 17 EB-9), and Dyer (case no. 17 EB-10). Ervin objected to each candidate for trustee on the grounds that because Owens was not a qualified candidate for Village clerk, Jackson, Fantroy, and Dyer were not valid candidates for trustee, and that even if Jackson, Fantroy, and Dyer could potentially stay on the ballot as independent candidates, the nominating petition contained less than the statutory minimum number of signatures required by section 10-3 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2016)).

         ¶ 9 On January 6, 2017, at the initial electoral board hearings, Ervin objected to the composition of the first, third, and fourth electoral boards, claiming that only the second electoral board was "duly constituted." Ervin's objections to the composition of the boards were noted, and the electoral boards proceeded to conduct ten separate hearings, one for each of the candidates to whom Ervin objected.

         ¶ 10 On January 9, 2017, Ervin filed a complaint for injunctive relief in the circuit court, alleging that the circuit court had "appointed three disinterested members of the public to serve as the duly constituted Municipal Officers Electoral Board [(Board)] for the Village of Hazel Crest, " but that "in apparent violation of the Illinois Election Code, the Village of Hazel Crest added 4 other individuals as members of the [Board], and by permutation and combination, reconstituted said Board into 4 separate and distinct Boards, with 4 distinct group [sic] of members, and 4 distinct individuals serving as Chairman of each of the 4 distinct and separate Boards." Ervin claimed that Alsberry, Rias, Moore, and Pate were the individuals "added" to the "duly constituted" board.

         ¶ 11 On January 10, the circuit court denied Ervin's complaint for injunctive relief, finding that a municipality may have multiple electoral boards in the event of statutory ineligibility of the statutory members of an electoral board. On February 23, 2017, the circuit court's order was affirmed on appeal. Ervin v. ...


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