A unique feature of Illinois election law is that candidates can be knocked off the ballot before voters can even size them up. Tuesday evening was the deadline to file objections to aldermanic candidates running in the February 22 municipal election.
Objections to candidacy filings were filed against 47th Ward challengers Tom Jacks, Matt Reichel and Tom O’Donnell. Alderman Gene Schulter’s filings went unopposed as were challenger Ameya Pawar‘s filings.
Attorney Jim Nally told Center Square Journal Wednesday he filed petition objections on behalf of John Tuttle against challengers Reichel and Jacks.
“Reichel and Jacks have basic problems with their signatures,” said Nally. “And Reichel also has some technical issues.” Nally also said he represents Ald. Schulter for election issues.
When contacted Wednesday afternoon, O’Donnell said he did not know anything about the filings made against Reichel and Jacks by Tuttle. “I don’t know who those people are,” he said. When asked if he had an attorney, O’Donnell said, “Not really. I am fine.”
Jacks thinks his signatures are in order, “Just about all of my petition signatures were collected by me, actually. It was definitely about four or five hundred.”
“We presume this is coming from the O’Donnell campaign,” Reichel said in response. “So O’Donnell becomes the machine candidate in this race.”
A Reichel supporter, Alice Coffey, filed an objection against O’Donnell, whom Reichel believes is working in concert with Ald. Schulter.
“Our focus is challenging Mr. O’Donnell because we feel this is just Schulter having another voice in the campaign. We feel that having both of them on the ballot at the same time is disingenuous.”
The legal challenge against O’Donnell’s petitions is unique and perhaps untested. “He petitioned for Schulter in this election cycle. Can you petition for one candidate and [then] run against him in the same election?” said Reichel. “We just want to present that question to the Election Board and let them decide.”
Unlike most states, Illinois election law allows any citizen to file an objection to a candidate’s petition to be on the ballot. In the 47th Ward candidates needed to file 185 valid signatures of registered 47th Ward voters as part of their petition to earn a spot on the ballot. Citywide candidates needed 12,500.
Most petition objections focus on faulty or fraudulent signatures, but some focus on more technical issues like incorrectly numbered pages or misfiled paperwork.
Ald. Schulter’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.