DeKALB – DeKalb City Council incumbent Scott McAdams won’t know until Friday, only four days before the election, if his name will remain on the ballot pending a judge’s ruling on an appeal to remove him backed in part by McAdams’ opposition, write-in candidate Derek Van Buer.
DeKalb County Chief Judge Bradley Waller told McAdams and those waging a case to remove him from the ballot – Van Buer and DeKalb resident Mark Charvat – that he needs more information before he can make a decision. Waller is expected to rule at a 2:45 p.m. hearing Friday at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.
McAdams, who appeared for the Wednesday hearing, declined further comment, but has been outspoken before about his belief that his reelection bid will prevail.
“The court has concerns,” Waller said Wednesday. “[...] So all of you are under the proverbial gun to get me the memos by Friday.”
McAdams is the only candidate who’s name will appear on the ballot for 5th Ward in the DeKalb City Council’s election.
If Waller rules in favor of Van Buer – arguing that the DeKalb city’s Electoral Board erred when they overturned petitions to unseat McAdams in January – McAdams’ name still would appear on the ballots, which already have been printed. Votes cast for McAdams, however, could be voided if the incumbent is ousted from the ballot Friday.
Van Buer did not respond to further requests for comment, but appeared alongside Charvat for the hearing. Thomas Riley also is running as a write-in for 5th Ward alderman.
Waller’s concerns center on how to weigh the testimony of DeKalb city employee Ruth Scott, who accepted petitions including McAdams’ filed by the candidates Dec. 12 at City Hall. McAdams’ spot on the ballot was first under contention in January, when petitions filed by Charvat and Van Buer with the city’s Electoral Board alleged McAdams hadn’t properly bound his paperwork.
The January petition to oust McAdams was overruled by the city’s Electoral Board, a ruling Charvat and Van Buer have fought since.
During the city’s Electoral Board hearing, Scott did not give live testimony but provided a sworn affidavit of her account of the day McAdams filed his candidacy papers at City Hall. Charvat and Van Buer argue that Scott should have provided live testimony and been subject to questions.
“The court has concerns. [...] So all of you are under the proverbial gun to get me the memos by Friday.”— DeKalb County Chief Judge Bradley Waller
McAdams’ attorney, Anna Wilhelmi, who also chairs the DeKalb County Democratic Party, said she believes Scott’s testimony is enough to stand behind the city’s Electoral Board decision.
“I think the sworn affidavit, to me, is testimony,” Wilhelmi said. “That’s how I feel about it. ... This is not a minor thing. It was a very thorough affidavit.”
DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Tasha Sims previously said that early votes cast for McAdams would also be voided, and voters would not be allowed to recast a vote for the 5th Ward aldermanic seat.
In order to make a ruling Friday, Waller wants all parties to submit statements that show how they believe Scott’s affidavit should be taken into consideration for the case.
Charvat said he is uncertain if the judge’s latest line of thinking changes the trajectory of the case and its outcome.
“It could go either way,” Charvat said. “The judge is going to make a decision on that.”
Charvat said he remains confident that the case will work out in his and Van Buer’s favor.
Wilhelmi asked Waller to require that all parties involved refrain from posting details about the court proceedings or assumptions about the result to public social media posts. Wilhelmi argued such posts were harming McAdams’ candidacy as he remains a candidate until a judge rules otherwise.
Waller urged all parties to use discretion.
“I may be very unhappy if I did find out that something that is not accurate was attributed to this court,” Waller said. “I’m going to treat you like adults. ... I want to see results based on the law, but I don’t want to have anything interjected that in any way shape or form would color what happened to Mr. McAdams if he remains on the ballot.”