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Dean v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

May 10, 2017

DEYON L. DEAN, Petitioner-Appellant,
BRADLEY SMITH, KAREN HOLCOMB, JEROME RUSSELL, individually and as members of the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of River Dale, THE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD FOR THE VILLAGE OF RIVERDALE, KAREN HOLCOMB, as Riverdale village clerk, DAVID ORR, in his official capacity as Cook County Clerk, JAISYN L. PASSMORE, and A.J. CUNNINGHAM, Respondents-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 17 COEL 00014 Honorable Paul A. Karkula, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE COBBS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

          Justices Howse and Rochford concurred in the judgment and opinion.


          COBBS, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Petitioner Deyon L. Dean, a candidate for Riverdale village president in the April 4, 2017, election, appeals from an order of the circuit court, confirming a decision of the Municipal Officers Electoral Board of the Village of Riverdale (Board), which sustained objections to his nomination papers filed by Jaisyn L. Passmore and A.J. Cunningham. Dean contends that the Board erroneously concluded that section 10-3 of the Election Code (Code) (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2014)), in conjunction with section 10-4 of the Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 2014)), requires an independent candidate to indicate his or her independent status on nominating petitions. In light of the impending election date, we issued an order on March 30, 2017, reversing the circuit court, directing that Dean's name be included on the ballot, and indicating that an opinion would follow. For the following reasons, we reversed the judgment of the circuit court.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Dean filed a statement of candidacy in December 2016, indicating his intent to run as an independent candidate for village president of the Village of Riverdale in the April 4, 2017, election. He circulated nominating papers to collect the required signatures and timely filed them with the Board. Each page of the nominating papers included a header, indicating that it was a "Candidate Petition" for "Village President (Mayor)" of Riverdale. The header also included Dean's name, address, and a repetition of the office sought. The filed papers bore over 500 signatures.[1]

         ¶ 4 Subsequently, Passmore and Cunningham (hereinafter the objectors) filed a petition with the Board pursuant to section 10-8 of the Code (10 ILCS 5/10-8 (West 2014)), objecting to Dean's nominating papers. The petition set forth various challenges to the validity of the signatures collected by Dean and also argued that the nominating papers "failed to disclose the capacity" in which he was running for office because it did not indicate whether he was running as an independent, member of an established party, or member of a new party. The objectors asserted that Dean's failure to identify his party status caused impermissible confusion for the papers' signers. Dean filed a motion to strike their argument regarding his party status. In response, the objectors filed affidavits of 13 signatories. Each affidavit is a form with a blank for the affiant's name and avers that the signer would not have signed the nominating papers if he or she had been aware that Dean was an independent candidate.

         ¶ 5 The Board held a hearing on Dean's motion to dismiss on January 10, 2017. At the hearing, Dean and the objectors agreed that he had provided at least 70 valid signatures. Consequently, the objectors withdrew their objections regarding the sufficiency of the signatures. The Board then heard arguments on the remaining objection regarding Dean's failure to identify himself as an independent.

         ¶ 6 On January 14, 2017, the Board issued a written decision, denying Dean's motion to dismiss, sustaining the objections, and directing that Dean's name not be included on the ballot. Because Dean had not indicated that he was an independent candidate on the nominating papers, the Board determined that he invalidly sought a nomination "as a 'candidate' generally, which is not contemplated under the Election Code." In making this determination, the Board relied on section 10-3 of the Code (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2014)), which governs the nomination of independent candidates; section 10-4 (10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 2014)), which requires the heading of nominating papers to include, inter alia, a candidate's party and "such other information or wording as required"; and section 16-3 (10 ILCS 5/16-3 (West 2014)), which requires that an electoral ballot list all independent candidates under a heading marked "Independent." Further, the Board found that Dean could not have substantially complied with the requirements for nominating papers because he had caused impermissible voter confusion as evidenced by the 13 affidavits submitted by the objectors.

         ¶ 7 Dean filed a petition for judicial review in the circuit court of Cook County on January 19, 2017. The trial court denied the petition on February 15, 2017.

         ¶ 8 Dean filed his notice of appeal on February 21, 2017. Given the imminent April 4 election, this court granted his subsequent motion to accelerate the docket. Dean filed his appellate memorandum in lieu of a brief on February 24, 2017, and appellees filed responding memoranda on February 28, 2017.

         ¶ 9 Appellees also filed a motion to dismiss Dean's appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to insufficient service. A panel of this court granted that motion and dismissed the appeal on March 7, 2017. On March 24, 2017, our supreme court issued a supervisory order, directing this ...

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