Two more independent candidates for Brookfield trustee are headed off the April 2011 ballot.
While the decision won’t become official until Jan. 25, a records check conducted on Jan. 19 by the Cook County Clerk’s Office revealed that the nominating petitions of both Frank Torres and Daniel Gribben don’t have enough valid signatures to put them on the ballot.
The clerk’s report will be forwarded to the Brookfield electoral board, which was scheduled to reconvene on Jan. 25 after the Landmark’s press time.
During the two-and-a-half-hour session last week at the Cook County Administration Building in Chicago, records clerks went through each of the signatures contested by Carla Close, a Brookfield resident with ties to the PEP Party.
Close and Gribben sat together as a county employee combed through Gribben’s petition papers. About 15 feet away, a county employee sat with Brookfield Trustee Brian Oberhauser, who was on hand to represent Close in her challenges to signatures on Torres’ petition.
When the dust settled, both Gribben and Torres came away with fewer than the 186 signatures required for placement on the ballot. Torres, who was not on hand and therefore could not appeal any of the rulings made by the county employee, ended up with 124 valid signatures out of the 210 he collected.
“I’m not going to sit there and fight the county clerk,” said Torres, who faced additional challenges to his petition in addition to the signatures. “It’s sad the [PEP] party has to use a person as a puppet to do their work.
“I tip my hat to the VIP Party that they felt they could beat an independent with their own integrity. I spoke to a number of people and businesses in town, and they’re saying how ridiculous it is. They’re sick of the whole thing.”
In the end, Torres said he should have hired an attorney to guide him through the petition process instead of navigating it himself.
“I just wanted to give back to the community I love so much,” Torres said.
Gribben ended up with 147 valid signatures. While he did appeal nine decisions made by the county, that still won’t be enough to get him on the ballot, even if he wins each appeal.
Of the 43 signatures ruled invalid in Gribben’s petition, about half were the result of printed or incomplete signatures. By collecting just 190 total signatures, Gribben left himself little room for error.
“Aside from the learning experience, perhaps I learned to be a little more efficient in collecting [signatures],” said Gribben, 56, a self-employed futures and options trader and risk analysis consultant. “I got every single one of those signatures personally. I didn’t have a back-up group of support.”
Neither Gribben nor Torres has decided whether to run as write-in candidates for the April 5 election.
As it stands now, the April 5 ballot will have six candidates – three each from the PEP and VIP parties. On Jan. 7, independent candidate Josh Jones was tossed off the ballot by the Brookfield electoral board for various petition flaws.
Jones appealed that ruling on Jan. 14 to Cook County Circuit Court. That appeal has not yet been heard.
On Friday, Michael Durkin, the attorney for the Brookfield electoral board, acknowledged that Jones had filed his appeal on Jan. 14 but said the file was entered late.
The code, he said, states that candidates have five calendar days – not five business days – to appeal a decision of the local electoral board. The deadline for Jones to file his appeal was Jan. 12.
If he loses his appeal, Jones said it was likely he’d run as a write-in. Anyone wishing to run as a write-in candidate for the April 5 election must file a declaration of intent with the Cook County Clerk by Feb. 3.
“I’d probably, absolutely do it,” Jones said. “I’m motivated now more than ever. It just makes you have to get closer to the actual residents, which is not a bad thing.”