Two candidates running to be Lakewood village trustees were knocked off the ballot for the upcoming April municipal election after an electoral board hearing upheld an objection to both of their nomination papers last week.
All candidates running for the Lakewood Village Board faced objections to their nomination papers, but only two of the objections – made by former Lakewood trustee Jason McMahon against incumbent Dan Alexander and newcomer William Wayne – were sustained.
This means Pamela Eddy, who is running to keep her trustee seat, and candidates April Runge, Michael Fischer and Tricia Babischkin are still on the ballot. So are both village president candidates, incumbent Phil Stephan and his opponent, Dave Stavropoulos.
Alexander and Wayne could not be reached for comment on whether they plan on appealing the electoral board’s decision.
McMahon’s objection alleged that Eddy, Alexander and Wayne originally gave the village clerk nomination papers that were not bound as required, and that at some point after realizing that, the candidates “demanded” the village clerk return the papers to them so they could be stapled together. Then they also demanded the village clerk indicate on their candidate receipt for filing nomination papers that the papers were stapled, McMahon said in his objection.
McMahon claimed also claimed they failed to file statements of economic interest with the McHenry County Clerk, another election law requirement that led to the removal of an incumbent McHenry alderman from the ballot also.
A McHenry County judge assigned members to the electoral board for each hearing, as two members of Lakewood’s usual electoral board, Stephan and Trustee Amy Odom, were found to have a conflict of interest.
For Alexander, the electoral board was made up of chairwoman Lisa Waggoner, Rebecca Lee and Samuel Weyers. In his case, the board found that Alexander did fail to fasten the nominating papers as required; that they were improperly withdrawn and altered; and that the candidate failed to file a statement of economic interest, according to the electoral board’s written findings and decision.
Wayne’s electoral board hearing, made up of the same members, found that though he did fasten the papers properly, he did not file a statement of economic interest.
McMahon made similar allegations regarding the incumbent village president, saying that he also demanded the return the nomination papers and then went to the Lakewood Police Department where he used a stapler to bind the nomination papers together. He said Stephan also failed to file a statement of economic interest.
At Stephan’s electoral board hearing, made up of Waggoner, Lee, and Lakewood Trustee Brian Augustine, the board found that while Stephan did fail to file a statement of economic interest, this did not invalidate his nominating papers. According to the electoral board’s written finding and decision, this decision was based on the village clerk’s direction to Stephan that the statement did not need to be filed.
Current Lakewood Trustee Ryan Berman claimed in his objection to the nominating papers of Stavropoulos, Fischer, Runge and Babischkin that each candidate had “multiple forged signatures” on their nomination papers.
The electoral board, made up of Waggoner, Weyers, and village Clerk Jan Hansen, found 10 of 109 signatures submitted by Fischer were invalid, but that left 99 signatures standing, more than the 59 required.
Berman ultimately withdrew his objections to the other candidate, but he told the Northwest Herald that this wasn’t because he doesn’t think he has a case.
Each candidate had at least one page of signatures that Berman said he thinks included “false affidavits” where the petitioner did not witness the papers being signed.
However, Berman said, if the electoral board threw out only a single page of signatures with these affidavits, as they did in Fischer’s case, none of the candidates he objected to would have enough discarded signatures to be taken off the ballot.
“I could have made a political determination to force all of them to testify,” Berman said, adding his objections weren’t made because of “political calculation.”
Babischkin, one of the candidates whose nomination papers Berman objected to, said the objections were baseless. She said all four of the candidates named in Berman’s objection talked to residents directly at COVID-19 safe places to get signatures.
In addition, Babischkin said the candidates who had petitions that were objected to got affidavits from the people who signed them.
“We met people at the beach, and out in the open air, we met people in the Dole [Mansion] parking lot. We made appointments at people’s houses,” Babischkin said. “We did all of these things to try to make it right and all within the rules.”