Two North Riverside mayoral candidates, three trustee candidates and a clerk candidate will learn whether they’ve been tossed off the spring ballot by a local electoral board on Thursday.
Despite being told that the electoral board would announce, through its attorney, a decision within 48 hours after a public hearing held Jan. 9, that deadline came and went over the weekend without any word.
Finally, on Monday afternoon, R. Peter Grometer, a retired Illinois Appellate Court judge serving as counsel for the North Riverside electoral board, announced that the decision would be made at a second public hearing later this week.
“After we went back, we realized that we needed to make the announcement at an open meeting,” said Grometer.
A decision will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. in the council chambers of the North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave.
The three members of the electoral board — North Riverside Mayor Ken Krochmal, Clerk Queenella Miller and Trustee Thomas Corgiat — engaged in no discussion of the matter before adjourning the two-and-a-half hour hearing held Jan. 9.
Following the hearing, none of the three electoral board members were to discuss the case between themselves. At the hearing on Thursday, the electoral board members will cast their votes on whether to sustain or overrule the objections made to the candidates.
While they may discuss their reasons for doing so, said Grometer, they do not have to. They also do not have to submit any written explanation of their votes, so the public may never know exactly what evidence the members of the board found compelling or lacking.
“There’s nothing in the law that tells them they have to do that,” said Grometer, who indicated the Thursday hearing is likely to be a quick affair.
“I don’t anticipate any deliberation,” Grometer said. “Until they cast their votes, they can certainly deliberate among themselves, but I expect it to be a very short meeting.”
The electoral board will be voting on objections made by North Riverside resident John Beresheim to the nominating petitions of independent mayoral candidate George Georgopoulos and the entire slate of candidates nominated by the Transparency and Accountability in Politics (TAP) Party, which is headed by mayoral candidate and current trustee Rocco DeSantis.
“This is what I have to go against,” said DeSantis in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “This board does whatever it wants, whenever it wants. All they’re doing is stalling.”
DeSantis said the delay is meant to cost him more money to fight the objections and prevent him from campaigning.
“All they’re doing is spending time and money because they think we’re going to back down. I’m always ready to fight. All they did was put a little more juice in our people.”
In Beresheim’s objection to DeSantis’ candidacy, he contends that DeSantis isn’t qualified to be on the ballot because DeSantis is still technically able to return to active duty as a North Riverside police officer. DeSantis is on injury disability, which is different from retirement. It allows for officers injured in the line of duty to return to duty if they’re cleared by a doctor.
But DeSantis’ attorney, Richard Means, at the Jan. 9 hearing, argued that it is absurd to believe that DeSantis’ status made him ineligible to run for office. He had already been elected a trustee in 2011.
“There is no practical likelihood that he could become an employee and employer at the same time,” said Means. “The fact that it is possible is not enough.”
Beresheim also specifically objected to the candidacy of TAP trustee candidate Marybelle Mandel, claiming she would not be a resident of North Riverside for a year prior to the April 9, 2013 election.
His evidence was based on voter registration information as well as water billing records, building department documents and vehicle registration records for the address Mandel has claimed as her local address.
Mandel’s attorney, Larry Zdarsky, brushed aside the objections, stating that Mandel’s husband had owned the North Riverside house for several years and that irregularities in water billing could be attributed to extensive remodeling being done on the home in the past couple of years.
Mandel, testifying before the electoral board, stated the North Riverside home was her primary residence for the past several years. Zdarsky also used vehicle registration information and an affidavit from a neighbor to prove Mandel lived at the address since at least 2010.
The electoral board will also rule on Beresheim’s objection to Georgopoulos, who failed to number the pages of his nominating petitions, and Beresheim’s objection to the rest of the TAP slate, in which he contended that the party’s name on its candidates’ nominating petitions is too long.