County candidate's case to be heard by Illinois Supreme Court

Ann Knef Sep. 6, 2011, 7:00am


A St. Clair County Republican whose bid for a county-wide office was thwarted by a Democratic opponent will have her grievance heard during oral arguments at the Illinois Supreme Court on Sept. 20.

The case stems from an objection Peggy Pierce of Cahokia filed in 2010 over the candidacy of Whitney Wisnasky-Bettorf of O'Fallon. Wisnasky-Bettorf attempted to run for the St. Clair County Board of Review, a three-member panel that hears property tax assessment appeals.

Wisnasky-Bettorf did not run in that year's primary election. Instead, she was slated to the position by the St. Clair County Republican Central Committee on March 25, 2010. The committee filed a resolution and notice of appointment with the County Clerk's office on April 1, 2010, however it was challenged by Pierce because of a requirement to file the paperwork within three days.

The challenge was taken to the St. Clair County Electoral Board, composed of Democrats Bob Delaney, County Clerk; Charles Suarez, County Treasurer and Bob Haida, former State's Attorney and now a circuit judge. The board denied Wisnasky-Bettorf.

St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson, a Democrat, upheld the board.

Wisnasky-Bettorf, represented by Brian Funk of O'Fallon, took the case to the Fifth District Appellate Court.

On Aug. 19, 2010, the appellate court upheld Gleeson in a 2-1 decision. Justices James Wexstten and Bruce Stewart, Democrats, were in the majority. Justice Stephen Spomer, a Republican, dissented.

Arguments centered on section 7-61 of the Illinois Election Code, amended by the state legislature effective Jan. 1, 2010. The section allows political parties to fill vacancies in nominations that occur when no candidate's name is on the party's primary ballot and when no one is listed as a write-in candidate.

Spomer held that Wisnasky-Bettorf complied with filing requirements.

"An objection to the timeliness of the resolution does not provide a legal basis by which to challenge the petitioner's candidacy, and the decisions of the circuit court and the board should be reversed," Spomer wrote.

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