« Last post by Ted on January 15, 2015, 06:57:30 PM »
Here is a summary of the hearings today against the candidacies of Jill Alexander, Shelley Picha and Catie Sullivan on the Tomschin objections. The hearing was to hear arguments on a Motion to Strike by the candidates' attorney.
Tomschin had two objections to the petitions of Alexander, Picha and Sullivan. First, the Statement of Economic Interest did not have an address on it. This is the same objection made to the candidacy of Elizabeth Jimenez in the District 100 school board race. Second, that the candidates did not identify on the Statement of Candidacy on whether they were running for the two year seat or the four year seat. Tom Tomschin is a Cicero Town employee who currently sits on the Cicero District 99 School Board. His wife is running for the two year for Morton District 201.
The hearing officer was Mary Meehan. James Nally represented Tomschin. Brendan Schiller represented Alexander, Picha and Sullivan.
On the issue of having no address on the Statement of Economic Interest statement, the same arguments (both for and against) were made in this case as was made in the Amaro objection to Elizabeth Jimenez. The Statement of Economic Interest form on the Cook County Clerk website does not contain a line for the address even though state law requires an address be specified on the form.
Nally argued (as Erdman argued in the Amaro objection) that state law requires an address on the Statement of Economic Interest; that no address was on the Statement of Economic Interest documents submitted by the candidates; that since no address was on the document, the document was not properly "received" by the Cook County Clerk. Nally argued that there was not "substantial compliance" with state law because the address was missing.
Nally also argued that it is up to the candidates to consult a lawyer to ensure the documents they submit to the clerk are lawful. Nally stated that candidates should not rely on the Cook County clerk site for legal advice. Nally stated he was able to obtain Statement of Economic Interest documents which had an address on it.
Schiller argued that there was substantial compliance with the Statement of Economic Interest; Schiller argued that the documents submitted did have addresses on them on certain lines when answering questions (to which Nally replied that those addresses were business addresses such as Argo High School, not the mailing address required by law); that case law on this matter indicates that an incorrectly filled out Statement of Economic Interest does not warrant removal from the ballot and that the Cook County Clerk was the "Public Authority" that should be relied on to provide the correct form.
Schiller also responded to Nally's assertion that his clients were able to file correct documents and that his clients had consulted attorneys before submisstion by responding that not all people can afford to hire a lawyer to review their documents before submission and that candidates should be able to rely on the Cook County Clerk.
The hearing officer, Meehan, questioned Nally on his assertion that the candidates should be removed from the ballot. She had the text of the law in front of her when she was questioning Nally and she asked the same question to Nally over and over again - "Why is lack of address a fatal flaw?" She said she was looking at the text of the law and she did not see where it would indicate lack of an address was a "fatal flaw" in that text. Nally responded that, because there was no address, there was "no receipt" by the Cook County Clerk (since a receipt would require a name, an address and the office being sought) and lack of the address meant the Cook County Clerk was not in "receipt" of the document. Nally stated that if there were two people with the same name running for the same office, the clerk would not be able to tie the Statement of Economic Interest to one or the other candidate because there was no address. Nally also stated the Statement of Economic Interest can be filed separately from the Statement of Candidacy so the address on the Statement of Candidacy cannot be relied upon.
The hearing officer, Meehan, then kept asking over and over again - "Why is that a fatal flaw?" and kept saying over and over again "I don't see this in the text of the law".
The second issue was that the candidates did not indicate in the office sought on their Statement of Candidacy on whether they were running for the 4 year seat or the 2-year seat.
Nally stated that if there were only 4 year seats up for election, then there would be no confusion under the law. Nally further stated that this year in District 201, there is both a two year seat up for election as well as 4-year seats and therefore there could be confusion amongst the voters as to whether candidates are running for the 4-year seat or the 2-year seat. Nally acknowledged that the petitions themselves stated whether the candidate was running for the 4 year seat or 2 year seat, but Nally contended that that was the signers of the petition saying what office they want the candidate to seek. The candidate himself or herself has to specify what seat they want on the Statement of Candidacy. Nally also acknowledged that Sullivan had circled that she was seeking a full term seat but argued that the 3 candidates had to specify 2 year seat or 4 year seat in the verbage of the office sought on the Statement of Candidacy.
Schiller argued that there could not be any confusion amongst the voters as to whether the candidates were seeking the 2-year seat or the 4-year seat because that was specified in the text of the petitions that were signed by voters.
Meehan ended the hearing by stating she would take the arguments under consideration and send her report to both lawyers.