Lyons resident Robert Jonak will press his bid to overturn the write-in election of Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 board member Humberto Andrade when the case goes before a Cook County Circuit Court judge on July 20.
Both sides will appear in front of Judge Marsha D. Hayes in Room 1708 of the Richard J. Daley Center in downtown Chicago for a status hearing on that date. Jonak seeks a recount of the write-in votes in all 24 precincts in District 103 after allegedly witnessing numerous irregularities and outright mistakes by election judges on April 5.
“That would be the quickest way to cut to the chase,” said Lawrence Zdarsky, Jonak’s attorney. “Depending on where the numbers lie, we can then determine if it makes sense to proceed with litigation.”
Andrade was declared the winner of the vacant four-year seat on the District 103 board after polls showed he received 146 votes to Jonak’s 93. On May 23, Jonak filed suit contesting the election, including sworn affidavits from 23 voters in two precincts where no votes were tallied for either write-in candidate.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that polling places lacked pens for writing in votes and that some election judges didn’t even realize that there were write-in candidates until the end of the day, among other things.
“I have no problem with Humberto,” Jonak told the Landmark shortly after filing suit. “That’s not my point, not my purpose. I’m just making sure everyone’s vote is counted and counted correctly.”
Andrade, a Stickney resident, has not officially responded to the suit, but is expected to do so after his attorney, Judith Petrucci, is cleared by the District 103 board. The board last night in a special meeting was expected to vote to approve a waiver of conflict of interest for Petrucci, who is a member of the board.
“Since I’m on the board, someone could potentially say it’s a conflict,” Petrucci said. “I just want to make sure the record is completely clear.”
School Board President Joanne Schaeffer said she didn’t see any reason why the board would not approve the waiver. She also said she hopes a recount will be ordered by the judge and that Cook County Clerk David Orr should take the blame for the reported problems.
“I was at the polls, and [the election judges] had no idea what was going on,” Schaeffer said. “Folks had no idea there was even a write-in race. I think a [recount] would be good, at least in the two precincts where there were zeros. If I take time to vote, I want it counted.”
Once Petrucci gets the green light to serve as Andrade’s attorney she’ll meet with Zdarsky to see “if there’s any basis for agreement on discovery.”
On July 20, any agreement could be presented to the judge or the judge could opt to arrange for a hearing date. Since it is an election case, it would likely be put on a fast track.
“They like to move these election cases along,” Zdarsky said. “I think the judge will put it on a short leash. She’s indicated that she’ll expedite this as quickly as she can.”