BELLEVILLE – Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall Jr. and candidates of the McCall Good Government Party bumped off all but one of their opponents from the ballot at a hearing of St. Clair County’s electoral board on Jan. 10.
The board disqualified two individual candidates and a party of five.
That leaves village voters with no choice on the April 2 ballot except between McCall and challenger Donna Ayres.
At the hearing, Ayres withdrew objections she had filed against McCall and his team.
All the objections originally belonged to the village electoral board, but McCall and clerk Richard Duncan petitioned in circuit court for replacements.
Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson granted the petition on Dec. 31.
“The multitude of objections requires that the board be comprised of public members that have no interest in any of the offices with relation to which objector’s petitions have been filed,” he wrote.
Gleeson assigned the objections to the county electoral board, consisting of county Clerk Tom Holbrook, State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, and Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay.
The board took up the Cahokia Hometown Team Party first.
The party would have run Robert Whitworth for mayor, Jami Saito for clerk, and Susan Reed, Beverly Schrum, and Jessica McClelland for trustees.
Trustee Jeffery Radford Sr. and first time trustee candidate Audra Baker, both on McCall’s team, objected to the party’s petitions.
Chet Kelly, representing Radford and Baker, said voters cast 3,919 ballots in 2015.
He said the party needed five percent of that, or 196 signatures.
Brendan Kelly said he counted 219 signatures.
Holbrook said his office certified 35 wrong addresses by his voter roll.
He said six of the 35 were in question, “but that still leaves you short.”
Jessica McClelland, trustee candidate of the Hometown Team Party, said, “It isn’t atypical for the county to make mistakes.”
Brendan Kelly said it’s a tricky process for any citizen trying to participate.
He said case law requires substantial compliance. He also said the question is whether people know what they are signing.
On the other hand, he said the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in a case from East St. Louis that, “You have to have a minimum number of valid signatures.”
He moved to sustain the objection, and all three said aye.
McClelland shouted, “We’re out of here.”
She dashed for the door, said, “Good luck,” and slammed the door.
Next, Chet Kelly presented a motion to dismiss objections that Ayres filed against McCall, Duncan, Radford, Baker, and trustee Gloria Ware.
Chet Kelly claimed Ayres should have filed an objection against McCall Good Government Party, rather than individual candidates.
He claimed Ayres shouldn’t have objected to Baker as a candidate in District 1, because Ayres doesn’t reside there.
Paul Evans, representing Ayres, said she is a resident of District 1.
Brendan Kelly asked Chet Kelly if he could support his statement.
Chet Kelly said if she resides in District 1, it would raise issues with her objections to Ware in District 2 and Radford in District 5.
“Two of these three need to go away,” he said.
Evans asked for a break, and Holbrook gave him five minutes.
Evans returned and said Ayres would withdraw her objections to Baker, Duncan, McCall, Ware and Radford.
Next, the board sustained an objection that Rayford filed against opponent Elmer Jennings, who would have campaigned with Ayres.
Chet Kelly said the petition sheets showed he was running for trustee but didn’t show his district.
Evans said his address on the sheets showed where he lived.
Brendan Kelly said there would be confusion of the voter and confusion of the election authority.
“How does the clerk put it on the ballot?” Kelly said.
He said he served on the board 10 years, and they always sustain objections in cases like this.
The board sustained it.
For the same reason they sustained an objection that Baker filed against opponent Trenise Hill, who would have campaigned with Ayres.
Holbrook advised all parties that they can appeal.