DeKalb County judge rejects lone DeKalb Park Board candidate’s appeal to remain on April 4 ballot

Michael “Corn Bred” Zasada is now vying for voters’ support as a write-in candidate for DeKalb Park Board

DeKalb Park District sign at Hopkins Park in DeKalb, IL

DeKALB – An appeal made by DeKalb resident Michael “Corn Bred” Zasada to overturn a recent election decision that ousted him from the April 4 DeKalb Park District ballot was denied by a DeKalb County judge.

Zasada now joins four other residents vying for voters’ support all as a write-in candidates.

The lone candidate on the ballot vying for one of two available seats, Zasada had faced a petition challenge waged by DeKalb resident Mark Charvat concerning his candidacy. Zasada was kicked off the ballot in January after the Electoral Board sided with Charvat’s petition that Zasada had not properly bound his candidate papers when filed.

Zasada and his attorney, Anna Wilhelmi, had sought to appeal the Board’s decision, though that effort was unsuccessful. On Feb. 24, Circuit Court Judge Joseph Pedersen ruled that the Electoral Board’s decision was sound, that Zasada had “failed to comply with the provisions...that the nominating petitions be securely fastened on one side in book form,” county court records show. Pedersen also ruled that Zasada’s due process had not been violated.

Wilhelmi, also the chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Party, said she and her client are not pleased with the judge’s decision.

“Based on the judge’s questions in the hearing, I was not surprised,” Wilhelmi said. “The burden, it is a standard that is against the manifest weight of the evidence. He obviously thought that the fact that the product was bound when it went across the desk was enough to rule in the Electoral Board’s favor.”

Wilhelmi described the judge’s ruling against Zasada as unfair.

“I would consider it as a technical violation that should not cast a candidate off of a ballot,” she said. “Where’s our voting rights? Where’s our access to ballot? Looking at the overall picture, it does not jive with Illinois policy. It is not a right that [Zasada] should just be lightly denied by someone taking documents out of a petition packet.”

Charvat said he agrees with how the judge ruled in this matter.

“It had nothing to do with him,” Charvat said. “There could have been 10 candidates running. If their petitions were not bound, I would have in this case challenged them.”

Wilhelmi said Charvat has done the voters a disservice by forcing them to choose only from write-in candidates for DeKalb Park Board.

“I think his motive is dastardly,” Wilhelmi said. “It’s not in the interest of the community as a whole but that’s just me. He had a right to object based on a technical violation like that.”

Additional write-in candidates vying for two seats on the DeKalb Park District Board of Commissioners include Brian Tobin, David Castro, Donna Johnson and Chris Newquist.

Zasada’s wife, DeKalb city Ward 1 alderwoman Carolyn Morris, issued a public call for support for her husband this week. Morris had filed Zasada’s papers on behalf of him.

“We filed for him to be on the ballot but for lack of a staple or paper clip in his packet, he was denied access to the ballot,” Morris wrote in a public Facebook post on her personal political page. “We are contesting this in court because if this is the law it should change. In the meantime, please write him in.”