John Allegretti went one for two in petition challenges before the Cook County Electoral Board.
Allegretti, in a petition challenge filed by his wife, Shannon, failed to knock fellow Riverside lawyer Martin Reggi off the ballot in their race for judge. But Allegretti survived a challenge to his own nominating petitions for the post of Riverside Township Democratic Committeeman filed by his opponent in that race, North Riverside resident Sylvester Hartigan.
The challenge to Reggi’s nominating petitions was a long, drawn-out affair. The hearing before hearing office Lynn R. Ostfeld took more than one day to complete. In all, 10 witnesses — including five of Reggi’s seven children as well as his wife — testified about the process of gathering and notarizing the signatures on Reggi’s nominating petitions to fill a vacancy in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit of the Cook County Circuit Court.
In her objection Shannon Allegretti alleged that many signatures on Reggi’s nominating petitions were not valid because they were not properly notarized and that some of the signatures of the people circulating the petitions were not genuine.
However the electoral board, accepting the recommendation of the hearing officer, decided only to disqualify 85 signatures obtained by Reggi’s son, Martin Reggi Jr., because he signed the nominating petitions with his initials rather than his full signature.
But those 85 disqualified signatures were not nearly enough to knock him off the ballot.
The decision ultimately turned on the credibility of Allyson Reggi, the candidate’s wife. She had collected about 1,000 signatures, about half of the signatures submitted. Allyson Reggi appeared very nervous and highly agitated during her testimony in the basement of a George Dunne County Building in downtown Chicago.
She admitted that her signature varied wildly on the 101 petition sheets she submitted. She said that she was embarrassed about some of her signatures on those petition sheets.
“It is pathetic to say that this is my signature,” Allyson Reggi testified at one point. She blamed the wide variation of her signatures on the petition sheets on various factors, including the number of sheets that she signed, the different locations where she had signed them — including on the floor of her husband’s Berwyn law office — and the weather.
But she insisted that all her signatures were genuine and that she never signed any of her children’s names.
“I signed,” Allyson Reggi testified. “There is no way I would mess with anything. I signed them, I circulated them. I worked hard.”
Ultimately the hearing officer found the testimony of Allyson Reggi and the Reggi children credible.
“Nothing was submitted to support a reason why someone other than family members would have signed the circulator’s affidavits, their own affidavits,” Ostfeld wrote in her recommendation to the electoral board. “Nothing was even intimated.”
After the hearing, John Allegretti said that he was not surprised by the decision. He said he knew it was a long shot to knock Reggi off the ballot, but claimed that there were so many bad signatures on Reggi’s nominating petitions that he and his wife felt they had to object.
“It’s about character, it’s about principle,” said Allegretti. “People have to make a decision as to who the best candidate is in this race, and that decision should be an informed one.”
Allegretti survives challenge
In his challenge to the Allegretti’s committeeman nominating petitions, Hartigan raised some technical objections to the language the papers used. Hartigan argued that the papers were invalid because Allegretti stated he was seeking nomination rather than election to the committeeman post. A party committeeman — a party post, not a government post — is selected in the primary election.
However, the electoral board ruled that despite the use of the word “nomination” on his petitions Allegretti’s papers were in “substantial compliance” with the election code.
Hartigan also argued that Allegretti, the incumbent Riverside Township Democratic committeeman, should not be allowed to run for both committeeman and judge at the same time, because the two positions are incompatible. He also argued that running for committeeman while also running for judge violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The electoral board ruled that is has no power to enforce the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Allegretti says that if he wins the primary for judge he would resign as committeeman, but that he saw no reason not to run for committeeman.
“If I win the primary for the judge spot … and if I win the primary for the committeeman, I would resign at that juncture,” Allegretti said. “You should not be a committeeman and a judge.”