Back in late December when David DeLeshe announced his resignation from the Brookfield-Lyons District 103 school board, he steadfastly maintained that he wasn’t forced out. Rather, he said, holding two offices (school board member and Stickney village trustee) was very time consuming, not to mention his job as a Lyons police officer.
That may, indeed, be the case, but DeLeshe was always an active school board member, who once served as board president. It’s hard to believe he’d walk away with just a little more than a year left in his term.
It’s very believable, however, that he was tired of dealing with political opponents’ attempts to get him removed from office. Last year, former Lyons president Ken Getty (father of Lyons President Christopher Getty, who put up a slate of candidates to run against DeLeshe and other incumbents in 2011) filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General — and it sure looks like he filed another with the Cook County State’s Attorney — arguing that DeLeshe shouldn’t be able to hold both offices.
The attorney general weighed in with a 1985 opinion from then-Attorney General Neil Hartigan that the offices of school board member and village trustee were incompatible. But that’s about it.
DeLeshe could have stayed on as school board member, though he likely would have gotten that letter waved in his face at every turn. He also might have faced a legal challenge from Getty or some other private citizen. There are others in the district who were complaining about the situation.
But, really, what needs to happen is for Illinois law to firmly and clearly define what constitutes “incompatible offices,” and the decision on whether to let these things slide should be taken out of the hands of politically-motivated local electoral boards.
DeLeshe ought to have known this challenge was coming. A former colleague on the District 103 board, Kathleen Fuentes, was tossed off the Stickney ballot when she tried concurrently to run for Stickney trustee in 2011.
The law ought to state clearly and specifically which offices can’t be held at the same time. Perhaps the law ought to state that only one office can be held at one time.
And the law ought to allow the county clerk to inform the candidate of the problem prior to the challenge period.
Pick one office and give your complete attention to it.