Fourth Ward resident Darlene Heslop's objections to 7th Ward Alderman Pat Wagner's nominating petitions were unanimously dismissed by Elmhurst's Electoral Board Monday on the grounds that Heslop does not live in Wagner's ward.
Wagner is the incumbent candidate running to retain his seat in the April 9 Consolidated Election. Heslop claimed that Wagner's nominating petitions were inconsistent with respect to how he referred to the position he was seeking. But Wagner's attorney, Michael Botti, presented a motion to dismiss the objections, which was ultimately accepted by the Electoral Board.
Botti referred to state election law and argued that only residents of the 7th Ward could file objections to petitions from candidates in that ward, a point that was corroborated by city attorney Thomas Bastian. Heslop, who did not have an attorney, argued that the “political subdivision” referred to in the state law meant the city as a whole.
Botti further argued that the substance of Heslop's objection—that Wagner wrote he was running for the “City of Elmhurst” on his statement of candidacy and “7th Ward” on his petition—was not valid and was not enough to disqualify him.
According to state statute, the city's Electoral Board is composed of the mayor, in this case acting Mayor and 5th Ward Alderman Scott Levin (who is also an attorney), City Clerk Patty Spencer and the longest-serving member of the City Council, which would have been Mark Mulliner.
Before the hearing began, however, Mulliner recused himself, stating “as the other duly elected alderman in the 7th Ward, I do not feel that I can fulfill my sworn duty as alderman for the constituents I have been elected to represent and at the same time sit in judgment fairly and impartially of who should be on the ballot for the Consolidated Election.”
Levin countered that Mulliner's concerns were not enough to interfere with his ability to rule objectively.
“We are all just a degree away from knowing everybody else in town,” Levin said.
Mulliner replied that he believed he could not be impartial. The panel voted to let Mulliner step down, and he was replaced by 3rd Ward Alderman Michael Bram, the second-longest-serving alderman.
According to DuPage County election information, Heslop has five days to file a petition for Judicial Review of the board's decision with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.