It’s election time, so it’s also objection time, the time-honored tradition where one side seeks to get its rivals tossed off the ballot to clear the way for a smooth, uncontested race.
Two years ago, Brookfield residents were deprived a real free-for-all of a race when three trustee candidates were tossed off the ballot for various technical deficiencies in their nominating petitions.
In 2013, Brookfield will get the battle royal it was denied in 2011 — three candidates for president and six candidates for trustee. Should make for a vigorous campaign and, hopefully, some thoughtful debate.
Back in North Riverside, however, the objections are flying. Curiously, no one filed any objections two years ago, when a couple of independents, including former police officer Rocco DeSantis, stunned the ruling VIP Party by ousting a couple of longtime VIP trustees.
That’s not happening in 2013. Objections have been filed against both DeSantis and a trustee candidate running with him for more serious reasons — that they simply aren’t qualified to run (though you would have thought that argument would have been made two years ago against DeSantis).
There are objections to the rest of DeSantis’ slate, based on a pretty shaky premise regarding the number of words in the party’s name — and whether the word “party” should count as one of those words.
There’s also an objection to the nominating papers of mayoral candidate George Georgopoulos, who committed one of the most basic mistakes of all, filing his papers without numbering the pages. He’s already resigned himself to getting booted from the ballot over that error.
While there certainly ought to be an avenue for objecting to nominating petitions — certainly there have been candidates who have lied about where they live, have forged signatures and have improperly gathered signatures — there has to be a better way to conduct the hearings that determine who stays on the ballot.
One thing is for sure, the fate of a candidate shouldn’t be decided by partisan political opponents who will exploit pointless technicalities to remove a threat.
In 2011, Rocco DeSantis struck a blow against the VIP Party. Even though the party maintained its majority on the board, DeSantis showed they were vulnerable.
And now an electoral board made up of VIP officials will rule on objections made essentially by the VIP Party, through a proxy. This isn’t to say that the members of the board won’t be able to fairly judge the matter, but it sure does leave room for doubt. There’s real motivation here to remove a threat from the scene, in the form of the top vote-getter in the 2011 election.
While it might be inconvenient, the state or county needs to ensure that independent electoral boards judge these cases, not local officials who may have their interests at stake. It’s time to tweak the system and take these decisions out of the political arena.