Madison County Circuit Judge Dave Dugan is expected to rule by tomorrow whether petitions of Democrat County Board member Elizabeth Dalton will withstand electoral challenge from a Republican constituent.
Challenger Harold Wathan, 60, of Collinsville claims Dalton's candidacy paperwork is invalid because it wasn't properly bound when it was turned in last month, as required by statute.
Dalton, 71, of Collinsville is seeking reelection to a county board seat she has held since 2012. If she stays on the ballot, she will face Alexis Paige Hutt of Collinsville in the Democrat primary. Republican Nancy Moss of Collinsville is running unopposed in the primary for the District 28 seat.
Wathan is represented by attorney Don Weber who argued in court this morning that a Dec. 15 Madison County electoral board ruling that favored Dalton should be reversed.
Weber said it is "undisputed" that after Dalton signed and notarized her petitions at the County Clerk's office, she handed them over as separate sheets of paper. By doing so, her candidacy should be declared invalid and her name be removed from the March 20 primary ballot, he said.
"The relevant case law makes it clear that under the facts of this case, the submission of unbound nominating papers is fatal, and that under such circumstances, the candidate's nominating papers must be invalidated as a matter of law," states Wathan's petition for judicial review.
Dugan indicated he would issue a ruling within 24 hours, on the verge of a Jan. 18 deadline for ballot certification.
Assistant state's attorney Jeff Ezra, representing the electoral board, rejected Weber's contention that Dalton's petitions were unbound. Ezra said they were securely fastened when Dalton turned them in.
The electoral board is comprised of County Clerk Debra Ming Mendoza, Circuit Clerk Mark von Nida and assistant state's attorney John McGuire, all of whom are Democrats.
Weber said he had submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for videotape of Dalton's encounter at the Clerk's office. After that was denied - based on privacy concerns - he requested a subpoena for a copy of the videotape, and that too was denied.
He said there should be no expectation of privacy at the County Clerk's office when a public official is filing public documents for public office.
Weber said that if the petitions were stapled, why not release the videotape that would support that position.
"I think they don't because they're lying," he said.
Ezra said he was "at a loss" for understanding how Weber is convinced of what's on the videotape without having already seen it.
"I have not seen the video," Weber said. "I don't even know if it's still available."
Attorney Jack Daugherty of Alton, appearing for Dalton, suggested that issuing subpoenas based on "feelings" is not appropriate.
Daugherty said he likes Weber, but "he sees conspiracy everywhere."
"Every Democrat is out to get him," Daugherty said. "If he gets the subpoena... Democrats will be under perpetual state of subpoena."