BELLEVILLE – Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson shifted Cahokia ballot disputes from the village electoral board to the St. Clair County electoral board on Dec. 31.
“The multitude of objections requires that the board be composed of public members that have no interest in any of the offices with relation to which objector’s petitions have been filed,” Gleeson wrote.
Mayoral candidate Donna Ayres has objected to nominating petitions of mayor Curtis McCall Jr., clerk Richard Duncan, and eight others.
In addition, two trustee candidates have objected to their opponents and to a slate of five candidates calling themselves the “Hometown Team Party.”
McCall and Duncan, electoral board members by virtue of their offices, petitioned for replacements on Dec. 31.
They wrote that O’Fallon lawyer Paul Evans, representing Ayres, objected to the board and to any possible replacement members associated with the village.
“The village disclaims that all possible hearing boards should be disqualified, but in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, petitioners believe that the 13 election objections should be heard by a board that does not consist of any of the village trustees,” McCall and Duncan wrote.
They attached a letter from Evans, objecting to a hearing the village electoral board planned to hold on Jan. 2.
Evans wrote that the board had insurmountable conflicts of interest.
He wrote that he might issue a subpoena on trustee Phyllis Pearson.
“We have a number of questions for Ms. Pearson given that she signed a number of sheets and was circulator,” Evans wrote.
He wrote that he also wished to subpoena trustee Gloria Ware and her son about his signatures on three petitions using three addresses.
The village electoral board gathered on Jan. 2, long enough for counsel Mark Scoggins of Columbia to announce that they would not call a meeting to order.
He said the chief judge ordered appointment of the county electoral board.
“I don’t even know if I’m going to be the attorney for the new board,” Scoggins said.
Ayres has objected not only to mayor McCall but also to their mutual opponent, Robert Whitworth.
She has objected to clerk Duncan and his opponent Jami Saito.
She also has objected to trustee candidates Audra Baker and Susan Reed in District 1, Ware and Beverly Schrum in District 2, and Jessica McClelland and Jeffery Radford Sr. in District 5.
Radford has objected to his opponent Elmer Jennings. And, Baker has objected to her opponent Trenise Hill.
Radford and Baker have jointly objected to the Hometown Team Party, which includes Whitworth, Saito, Reed, Schrum, and McClelland.
The county electoral board has set a hearing Thursday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m.
The board normally consists of state’s attorney Brendan Kelly as chairman, county clerk Tom Holbrook, and circuit clerk Kahalah Clay.
On Jan. 3, that board denied objections to four East St. Louis school district candidates and three East St. Louis park district candidates.
County officials handled the disputes rather than the East St. Louis election commission because both districts extend into other municipalities.
A dispute that the East St. Louis commission decided in favor of mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks has advanced to circuit court.
Mayoral candidate Robert Eastern III petitioned for judicial review on Dec. 17, a week after the commission denied his objection to Jackson-Hicks.
Eastern’s lawyer, Eric Evans of Granite City, wrote that Jackson-Hicks didn’t gather the necessary number of signatures.
Evans challenged 29 entire petition sheets, claiming circulators failed to swear to statements in the presence of an officer authorized to administer oaths.
He challenged the address of circulator Louis Brown on four of the 29 sheets, and the address of circulator Gerald Harris on two other sheets.
He challenged 80 signatures, many of them from sheets he challenged. He claimed the commission violated due process by refusing to issue subpoenas.
Evans wrote that without testimony of individuals for which subpoenas were properly sought, it was impossible to prevail.
“Moreover, it is a fundamental denial of due process to prevent a litigant from calling witnesses in support of their case,” Evans wrote.
Gleeson assigned associate judge Julie Katz, who set a hearing Thursday, Jan. 10.