Dylan Benavidez will remain on the ballot as Democratic candidate for Bureau County clerk for the upcoming general election, following Tuesday’s objection hearing,
“A huge weight has been lifted off me and my camp,” Benavidez said. “It’s a huge weight to have lifted off of our shoulders. From the day we started this, we knew we were in the right.”
An objection to Benavidez was filed by Bureau County Republican Party Chairman Barry Welbers on Aug. 1. In Welbers’ objection he claimed three areas of Benavidez’s appointment was not fulfilled.
The first claim was the meeting to appoint Benavidez took place before the primary election was certified by the state board of elections on July 13. The second claim was Benavidez used a form intended for appointment to a consolidated election rather than a general election. The final claim was Benavidez’s paperwork referred to the office as county clerk and not county clerk and recorder.
Welbers said he utilized information from the State Board of Election to formulate his objection, but did not use them for legal advice.
Welbers was present on Tuesday to present his case to the Bureau County Electoral Board consisting of Bureau County Treasurer Joseph Birkey; Representative appointed by State’s Attorney Geno Caffarini, Daniel Anderson and Representative appointed by Bureau County Circuit Clerk Dawn Reglin, Erica Sterling.
Benavidez, represented by Attorney Brad Popurella, presented as objection to Welber’s objection on the grounds Benavidez was not informed in person or by certified mail of the objection in a timely fashion in order to generate an appropriate defense.
Popurella also added at the time of the hearing, Benavidez still had not been properly informed of the objection; as would be the duty of of the county election authority.
Popurella argued there is no case law to support the claim the appointment to nominate Benavidez had to take place following the certification of primary election by the state board of elections.
On the second point presented by Welbers, Popurella said the form Benavidez utilized indicated it’s intended form was for a primary election, but there is no directive that the use of the form could be a flaw in candidacy. Both forms in question also require identical information.
Popurella argued the final Welber claim by indicating the county’s website said the office in question as the “County Clerk’s Office” and Republican candidate Matthew Eggers campaign signs also state County Clerk.
“We researched everything and put our best foot forward,” Benavidez said. “We never stopped working.”
After deliberation, the board returned with the conclusion to deny Welber’s objection and allow Benavidez to be included on the Democratic ballot moving forward.
The board said it believed Welber’s first claim presented the strongest argument but did not hold enough legal authority to uphold the objection.
The board also denied Welber’s second claim because the used forms complied with the requirements to run for the office. On the final objection the board believed Welber’s claim held no merit and at most included a technical wording issue.
“I think today the facts presented themselves,” Benavidez said. “I felt like it was a very swift decision and I think that it couldn’t be more clear that the facts are that my candidacy is legitimate. Things were done properly.”
Welber will have five days from Tuesday to file an appeal of the decision, although he said he does not plan to file an appeal.