Just exactly which candidates for the Brookfield-Lyons School District 103 board will be on the April 5 ballot is up in the air. Last week Stephen Mazur, a District 103 board member and a candidate himself, challenged the nominating petitions of three other candidates running for spots on the board.
Mazur has challenged the petitions of Lyons residents Judith Petrucci and James A. Gross, who are running for four-year terms on the board. In addition, he challenged the petitions of Lyons resident Joseph J. Pizzuto, who filed to run for the open two-year term on the board. Mazur is also running for the two-year spot, the only seat for which there is competition.
The only candidate whose petitions Mazur did not challenge was Michele R. Visk, who is running for a four-year term.
On Saturday morning, the three-person Electoral Board for the district heard Mazur’s complaints against the candidates. The Electoral Board consists of school board President Mark Rogers and board members Roxanne Connolly and Joanne Schaeffer.
That panel voted to refer Mazur’s challenges to the Cook County Clerk’s Office, which this week will perform a records check to determine whether Mazur’s protests have substance. The Electoral Board will reconvene on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. to make a final ruling on the challenges.
In his complaints against Petrucci and Gross, Mazur is alleging that neither candidate has enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot. As for Pizzuto, Mazur cited a variety of problems.
First, he contends that Pizzuto is not a registered voter within the district. In addition, Mazur says that Pizzuto’s petitions were filled out improperly at the time they were circulated. Mazur in his objection recounts being approached by a man circulating petitions for Pizzuto, and seeing the “office” line on the petition blank. Mazur also contends Pizzuto does not have enough valid signatures on his petitions.
When asked what his motivation was for challenging the petitions, Mazur said, “Because I felt if they can’t fill out petitions right, they shouldn’t be on the board.”
Petrucci, a former Lyons village president and trustee, meanwhile, expressed surprise that anyone would bother challenging school board petitions. No one at Saturday’s hearing could remember petitions ever being challenged in a District 103 election.
“I find it interesting that [filing petitions] for what is basically a non-paying, volunteer job becomes objectionable,” Petrucci said. “The thing is to put people on the ballot.”
Mazur’s attorney, Lawrence Zdarsky, also questioned the propriety of Connolly allowing herself to be on the Electoral Board. Connolly, who is not running for reelection, is Pizzuto’s mother.
“At least it should be disclosed on the record,” Zdarsky said.
Connolly declined to recuse herself from the Electoral Board, saying, “I believe I can be fair.”