Algonquin Township trustee loses appeal to keep seat

Edward Zimel Jr. plans to file another appeal to Illinois Supreme Court, attorney says

Algonquin Township Trustee Ed Zimel

Algonquin Township Trustee Edward Zimel Jr. has lost his bid to remain in office after an appeals court affirmed the judgment to remove him from his position for a previous felony conviction, according to court documents.

The 2nd District Appellate Court of Illinois denied Zimel’s appeal last week, court records show. Zimel has been back in his position temporarily since August, when the appellate court granted Zimel’s request to stay until the courts ruled in the case.

Zimel was first removed from the position in June for a previous felony conviction by McHenry County Judge Joel Berg. Zimel was charged in 1990 with a felony of intimidation in Cook County.

A state law establishes that “a person is not eligible to hold any office if that person, at the time required for taking the oath of office, has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury or other felony.”

Zimel plans to file another appeal, which would go to the Illinois Supreme Court, attorney John Nelson said.

“Zimel, if anything, is not a quitter,” Nelson said.

Nelson also said Wednesday: “I think the evidence is clear that Zimel was shocked to find out Cook County had felony documents on him,” adding that Zimel had undergone previous background checks.

Zimel argued in part that his felony fell outside of a five-year statute of limitations and the motion was “politically motivated” since he has held three public offices for the past 10 years.

“It just seems that this is kind of petty politics that the voters really don’t care for,” Nelson said.

He also argued in his appeal that the township code is unconstitutional, but the appeals courts said that had to be raised at the trial court level, which was not done.

Zimel was first elected as a township trustee in April 2021, and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office first filed action to remove him in August 2022.

The state’s attorney’s office sent a letter to Zimel in June 2021 requesting that he clarify his 1990 conviction or resign from his position. The state’s attorney’s office claims that Zimel did not choose either option, court records said.

Zimel filed a motion in October 2022 seeking to dismiss the state’s attorney action, arguing a five-year statute of limitations applies to him.

“He argued that this action fell within the quoted language and that no action could be brought more than five years after his 1990 conviction,” according to court records.

His motion to dismiss was denied in December 2022, and Zimel filed another motion in the same month. He argued that because he was not convicted of an “infamous crime,” as the code says, he could not be prohibited from holding office, court records show.

But the appeals judges, in their ruling, said they “reject Zimel’s argument as contrary to the plain language of the township code. The township code clearly includes the language ‘infamous crime, bribery, perjury or other felony.’ If we interpreted ‘other felony’ to refer only to infamous crimes, we would essentially be reading the ‘other felony’ language out of the statute. This, of course, we cannot do.”

Algonquin Township is in the far southeast corner of McHenry County and includes all or part of Crystal Lake, Cary, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Fox River Grove, Trout Valley and Barrington Hills.