Wheaton challenges resident's right to run as a write-in candidate
Feb 08, 2013 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The race for Wheaton's at-large council seat is heading to court after a dispute over his residency.
Wheaton's attorneys have filed a motion in DuPage County Circuit Court to keep Frank Garcia from running as a write-in candidate. The city's electoral board booted the hopeful off the ballot last month after his opponent, John Prendiville, pointed out that Garcia voted in Naperville in November and didn't register in Wheaton until after he filed for candidacy.
Garcia has to be a resident for at least one year before running for office in the city, said Ken Florey, the city's election attorney. He argued that, although Garcia lives in Wheaton, his voter registration is the main indicator of his residency.
The city's lawsuit argues that if the county prints a write-in ballot for Garcia and he procures enough votes, the city would refuse to seat him, which would open the door for a number of legal problems.
"The coffin is not only nailed down but put into the ground. For you to come back and do a write-in is just a misunderstanding of the law," Florey said.
After the city's electoral board voted to remove Garcia from the ballot, he registered as a write-in candidate through the DuPage County Election Commission, which accepted his petition.
County elections officials declined to take a stance on the issue and said they would comply with the judge's ruling. When Garcia filed as a write-in candidate, the county accepted his petition because he was now a registered Wheaton voter and met the qualifications.
"This is something the city is taking up with Frank, and it comes down to whatever the court decides," said Joseph Sobecki, assistant executive director of the DuPage County Election Commission. "Usually when the candidate gets thrown off the ballot, we don't hear about it. We accept it per statute."
The paper ballots would have to be printed with a space for a write-in before absentee voting starts on Feb. 28, he said.
"I would agree with whatever the court decides, but my stance is that this never would've gotten this far if the board of elections didn't give me the go ahead to be a write-in," Garcia said. "In government, does the left hand know what the right hand is doing "
Prendiville is the only candidate on the ballot after Garcia was removed.
If the judge rules he is ineligible to run as a write-in, Garcia said he'll run for another seat in two years.
The at-large council seat was vacated after Jeanne Ives was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. Her successor will complete the term through 2015.
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