BELLEVILLE – Three top Democrats fell to defeat in committeeman conflicts before the St. Clair County electoral board, one as counsel and two on their own.
Attorney Robert Sprague, representing Washington Park Mayor Rickie Thomas, withdrew an objection against Carlene Tucker in Canteen Township precinct 6.
Belleville attorney Lloyd Cueto withdrew his nominating papers in Belleville Township precinct 27, after Gary McCoy objected.
County Treasurer Charles Suarez failed to show up for a hearing, and the electoral board upheld an objection from Brenda Reed in St. Clair Township precinct 20.
In all, the board upheld seven objections and denied 10 on Dec. 14 and 17. All of the challenges were to Democrats, but the record does not reflect objectors’ party affiliation.
Sprague, chair of the party’s county central committee, had alleged for Thomas that Tucker didn’t appear before a notary when she signed her papers.
Board member Steve Sallerson, acting for state’s attorney Brendan Kelly, asked Tucker if she had a witness.
Tucker said Connie Evans.
Sprague whispered to Thomas, and Thomas whispered back.
Sprague said, “We withdraw the objection.”
A wave of surprise passed through about 20 people in the room.
Sallerson said Tucker would remain on the ballot.
Tucker said later that Connie Evans was her notary.
She said police came to her house with the objection on Monday, Dec. 11.
She said Thomas claimed Evans didn’t notarize her petitions at the time she got them signed.
“I was like, how do you prove that?” Tucker said. “Why would they do this? That could mess up her notary.”
Tucker said she talked to Evans on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Evans said she couldn’t miss work for the hearing.
Instead, Evans signed an affidavit for her, and Tucker took it to the hearing.
“They didn’t even ask for it,” Tucker said. “The last time I ran, Rickie Thomas tricked me off the ballot.”
“They wouldn’t even let me run as a write in,” she said. “When he wants you off the ballot, he gets you off the ballot.
“It’s like he’s got favor up at the county. I’ve seen that situation. When Bob Sprague’s sitting there, you know he’s going to win.”
For Suarez, a single blank space cost him a spot on the ballot.
He signed the first line on one sheet, with Lucy Lopinot, Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot, and Connie Lopinot signing on the next three lines.
The sheet needed six more signatures, and Suarez gathered five.
When Reed’s objection to Suarez reached the electoral board, Sallerson called out, “Anybody here for Suarez?”
No one answered, and Sallerson moved to uphold the objection.
The other two board members, County Clerk Tom Holbrook and Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay, voted for the motion.
Cueto withdrew his nominating papers after McCoy alleged that eight of 10 voters on a single page didn’t live in the precinct.
McCoy spotted two stray addresses on Longview Drive and one each on Wendy Way, Foley Drive, Oliver Lee, Hawksbill Drive, Gass Avenue and North 39th Street.
In Belleville Township precinct 28, the board upheld an objection from Jordan Araiza against Roger Osthoff, for leaving 10 lines blank.
In St. Clair Township precinct 34, the board upheld an objection from Daniel O’Keefe against James R. Williams, for leaving three lines blank.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 1, the board upheld an objection from Sherwin Haywood against Anthony Tarvin, for three names not qualified or registered.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 16, the board upheld an objection from Raymond Bonds against Mitree Jenkins, for nine duplicate signatures.
In a scene worthy of a film, objector Albert Hampton carried the day against Gloria Collier in St. Clair Township precinct 10.
Hampton challenged two signatures, but faltered when Clay asked if he compared them to signatures on registration cards.
He said it was impossible because he received notice of the hearing the previous evening.
He said if they’d give him time, he’d run to Holbrook’s office and get the cards.
They gave him 90 minutes, and he came back with support for both challenges plus evidence of a third suspicious signature.
Sallerson told Hampton he found at least one invalid signature, and the board upheld the objection.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 22, the board upheld an objection from Jesse Lewis against Felix Arnold, for failure to number his papers consecutively.
The board denied an objection from Arnold against Lewis, for showing the signature of notary Christopher Powell as Chris Powell.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 10, where opponents Timothy Lockett and Ricco Moore objected to each other, the board denied both objections.
Lockett claimed Moore wrote the election date as March 20, 2017, instead of 2018.
Moore claimed Lockett was elected committeeman in the outer county.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 20, where opponents Danielle Moore and Nathaniel McCloud objected to each other, the board denied both objections.
Moore alleged a difference between McCloud’s signature on his statement of candidacy and his petitions.
McCloud alleged that Moore changed her name to Hudson and moved to Belleville.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 14, where opponents Jesse Davis and Victoria Ferguson objected to each other, the board denied both objections.
Davis claimed Ferguson listed a false address, and Ferguson claimed Davis failed to number two documents.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 2, the board denied an objection from Stephanie Bush against June Olivette Hamilton.
Bush claimed Hamilton is registered under a former name, June H. Dean.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 12, the board denied an objection from David King against Kenneth Brown Sr.
King claimed Brown inaccurately identified his residence.
In East St. Louis Township precinct 22, the board denied an objection from La Keisha Adams against Kenneth “Bug” Watts Sr.
Adams alleged several forgeries and several signatures that were not registered voters in the precinct.