The Illinois Appellate Court ruled March 29 that the North Riverside electoral board erred in knocking candidates from the Transparency & Accountability in Politics Party off the ballot and ordered that all but one of them be restored to the ballot.

The three-judge panel, which included P. Scott Neville, David Sterba and Daniel Pierce, issued a three-part ruling.

First, it ordered that the party’s name appear on the ballot as “Transparency Accountability in Politics Party” — without an ampersand, which knocks the party’s name down to five words, in compliance with Illinois election law.

Second the panel ordered that the names of clerk candidate Peter Culafic and trustee candidates Annabelle Downs, Luigi “Gino” Labellarte and Marybelle Mandel appear on the April 9 ballot.

Finally, the panel ordered that the name of mayoral candidate Rocco DeSantis “should not be placed on the ballot.”

As a result, DeSantis can choose to file as a write-in candidate by April 2. On Monday, DeSantis confirmed that he had filed paperwork to run for mayor as a write-in candidate.

In addition, since the party’s name will appear on the ballot, the TAP Party may be able to choose to fill the vacancy left on the ballot with the removal of DeSantis’ name.

The reasoning behind the judges’ decision was not immediately available and may not be available to the public until after the election. However, the judges apparently disagreed with the local electoral board’s opinion regarding the residency objection made against Mandel.

The judges are leaving to the circuit court, however, the complaint made with respect to DeSantis’ ability to run for office. North Riverside resident John Beresheim had objected to DeSantis’ candidacy, claiming DeSantis is still an active duty police officer on a disability pension. DeSantis claims he is effectively retired from the police force.

In an emailed response to the Landmark, DeSantis expressed disappointment with the court’s decision to exclude him from the ballot.

“Although I don’t agree fully, I respect the decision of the higher court,” DeSantis wrote. “It was extremely costly, but I feel the residents of North Riverside deserve to choose their elected officials.”

DeSantis and his fellow candidates on the TAP ticket have been fighting Beresheim’s objections for the past three months, employing two attorneys in the process. Beresheim, meanwhile, has also been represented by two attorneys during the process, including noted election attorney Burt Odelson. It’s unclear who is bankrolling Beresheim’s challenge bid.

Beresheim, the chairman of the North Riverside Plan Commission, is an ally of the VIP Party. Three VIP members, including Mayor Kenneth Krochmal, Clerk Queenella Miller and Trustee Thomas Corgiat, served on the local electoral board that initially disqualified all of TAP’s candidates in January.

Hubert Hermanek Jr., who is running for mayor on the VIP Party slate, said, “We’re still campaigning as if I had the same amount of opponents. We’ll continue to do so regardless of the number of candidates on the ballot.”

Appeals court decision by RBLandmark

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