Lone DeKalb Park District board candidate knocked off April 4 ballot will appeal Electoral Board decision

Attorney for Michael “Corn Bread” Zasada will appeal court decision for Park District’s Board of Commissioners ballot

DeKalb Park District sign at Hopkins Park in DeKalb, IL

DeKALB – The only person running for a spot on the DeKalb Park District’s board of commissioners said he plans to appeal the DeKalb County Electoral Board’s decision, which kicked him off the April 4 ballot.

Michael “Corn Bread” Zasada did not return requests for comment, but his attorney, Anna Wilhelmi, said he wants to ensure his name remains on voters’ ballots.

Wilhelmi – who’s also the chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Party – said she believes unfairness is the reason Zasada is working with her to appeal the Electoral Board’s decision.

An objection to Zasada’s candidate papers was filed by DeKalb resident Mark Charvat, alleging that the documents weren’t properly bound together and therefore his petition’s signatures were invalid under Illinois law, which requires sheets to be fastened together securely at one edge.

The Electoral Board – comprising DeKalb County Clerk Tasha Sims, Assistant State’s Attorney David Berault and Supervisor Deputy Clerk for Circuit Clerk Colleen McConnaughay – ruled in Charvat’s favor at a hearing earlier this month.

The board determined that Zasada’s papers hadn’t been properly bound when they were handed over, invalidating signatures he’d collected from voters.

“Occasions such as this are rather unpleasant, though unavoidable for us,” board members said about the ruling, according to court documents.

Wilhelmi said the decision wasn’t fair because Zasada is the only candidate running for the park board race, thus depriving voters of their only option.

“There was no confusion, no tampering with the packet, no ruling frankly about that and how it affects the integrity of the electoral process,” Wilhelmi said. “How does that affect, in this case, the electoral process? How did that detriment anyone by taking that [nomination packet] out of the clear binder and handing it to clerk – in order, numbered. Everything’s perfect, signature’s perfect. And then the punishment of a person to just be removed from candidacy. So, it’s that sense of unfairness that really drives this situation.”

Wilhelmi said she believes Zasada’s right to be on the ballot has been lightly denied, which runs counter to Illinois case law.

“That affects all of those voters that want Michael Zasada to be on the ballot so they can vote for someone,” Wilhelmi said. “Right now, they have no one to vote for. There is no one running for park district right now. How is that right? How is that just? How is that following Illinois policy?”

Wilhelmi said she and Zasada are filing a motion to have the Circuit Court consider hearing the appeal within 30 days of the Electoral Board’s filing, as required by state statute, rather than the date on which they are scheduled to appear.

However Zasada’s appeal shakes out in the Circuit Court, residents of the DeKalb Park District have until Feb. 2 to file a declaration of intent to run as a write-in candidate.

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