September 29, 2022


Details of objections to three Congressional District 17 candidates released

Objections say irregularities would leave candidates with fewer than 400 valid signatures

Petitions to challenge signatures on on candidates running in the 17th district.

Two women who jointly filed objections to three Democratic 17th District Congressional candidates say one filed false affidavits, another violated petition circulator requirements, and all three have enough improper signatures to invalidate their campaigns. One of those candidates says she is confident in the validity of the signatures.

Jane Austin of Rockford and Anita Skarr of Loves Park are challenging the candidacies of Democrats Jacqueline McGowan of Palos Hills, Marsha Williams of Channahon and Linda McNeely of Rockford.

Aside from their addresses, no information on the Austin or Skarr is available from the State Board of Elections. Attempts to reach the objectors Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Their intent, according to their objector petitions, are “to see that the election laws of Illinois governing the filing of election petitions are properly complied with, and that only duly qualified candidates for the office … shall appear on the ballot …”

Their claims include allegations against all three that various petition-signers either don’t live at the address listed, don’t live in the district at all, aren’t registered to vote, signed twice, were signed by someone other than the purported signer, or that the signature or other information are incomplete or illegible. These irregularities leave the candidates with fewer than the 400 validly collected signatures required to run for the office, they say.

In addition, Austin and Skarr also say McGowan “committed a pattern of fraud and false swearing by signing the circulator affidavit on petitions she did not circulate.”

Specifically, they say McGowan left 116 petition sheets “at cannabis dispensaries or other locations,” meaning that the petitions were signed outside her presence, and so she falsified the affidavits by signing them after picking them up.

The also say McNeely’s nomination papers included petition sheets that did not comply with the circulator’s requirements, which include things such as personally circulation the petitions, being at least 18, living in the district and appearing before a notary,

The objections will be heard by State Board of Elections hearing officers, who were assigned to each case on Tuesday. If the objections are found to be legitimate and the petitions are upheld, the candidate can be disqualified.

Williams said Tuesday that she does not know either Austin or Skarr, and she is confident in the validity of her signatures.

“We’re not worried. They are stating that 340 are invalid of the 669 gathered, so they will have to find all of them bad for them to thrown out,” Williams said, adding that all were gathered at Democratic events, and that she and her staff made sure to verify that all were registered and lived at the addressed they gave.

For example, one of the signatures they have challenged is that of Whiteside County Board Chairman and Sterling precinct committee member Jim Duffy, a Democrat, who they also say is not registered to vote, Williams said.

He is indeed registered, the county clerk’s office confirmed.

“They also alleged that somebody I personally know is deceased,” who is not, she said.

All told, seven Democrats and two Republicans are running for the 17th District seat being left vacant by Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos’ decision not to seek another term.

In addition to McGowan, McNeely and Williams, they are Democrats Eric Sorensen and Angie Normoyle, both of Moline, Jonathan Klarer Logemann and Litesa Wallace, both of Rockford, and Republicans Charles “‘Charlie” William Helmick Jr. and Esther Joy King, both of East Moline.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.