Spinney Remains On Ballot With 292 Valid Signatures
The municipal electoral board concluded its hearing Monday on the objections to Jennifer Spinney's candidate nomination signatures.
With just two signatures over the required minimum, Winnetka Trustee Jennifer Spinney's name will appear on the April 5 ballot.
At a hearing Monday night, the municipal electoral board -- Village President Jessica Tucker, Village Manager Rob Bahan and Trustee E. King Poor -- ruled on disputed signatures and addresses on Spinney's candidate filing petitions. The board ultimately determined 292 valid signatures on the petitions -- two more than the 290 required.
“What makes me happy is the residents here have the ability to have four people and choose three candidates,” Spinney said after the hearing.
Spinney, who is running independently, will be included with the three trustee candidates slated by the Winnetka Caucus: Richard Kates, Linda Pedian and Arthur Braun. Kates, an attorney, originally filed objections to 72 of Spinney's 314 signatures in December. After a review or "binder check" of the disputed signatures and addresses at the Cook County Clerk's office Jan. 11, 42 of her signatures were declared invalid and 27 valid, leaving her 17 signatures short of the 290 required. Both Kates and Spinney objected to most of those determinations, which were then up to the discretion of the municipal electoral board. Village Attorney Katherine Janega and Peter Coblentz, an associate village attorney, were also present Monday night.
During the five-hour hearing, the board heard arguments, considered evidence, heard testimony from two residents, and delivered rulings on each of the disputed lines. Tucker, Poor and Bahan overruled the clerk's determinations in all of the 19 cases where Spinney provided an affidavit.
"The signature is maybe not ideal but we have someone stating under oath that this is where they live," Poor said.
An Illinois statute (10 ILCS 5/7, 10-4) requires the signatures and addresses of registered voters to be written on the nominating petitions. Kates said he was surprised the board accepted some of the disputed signatures, regardless of the affidavits.
"I’m astounded when there’s all these attorneys up there and you don’t hear a word of what the statute is," Kates said.
In one case, the board accepted a signature accompanied by a telephone number instead of an address, overruling the clerk's office's determination that it was invalid.
"That’s why we have an affidavit here to cure that," Poor said. "I see this as no different if someone transposed the numbers on their street address. The fact that they put down their telephone number shouldn’t disenfranchise them."
The board accepted signatures that the clerk's office denied when the handwriting could be misread.
“I have spent several hours looking at each of these and I can see why there’s an objection by the clerk's office," Poor said. "The handwriting is just illegible, some of these are practically chicken scratch. Maybe that’s a case for teaching better handwriting."
Kates said he felt the board determined whether the voters were "good fellows" rather than basing rulings on whether the signatures and addresses matched the records exactly.
“The affidavits don’t cure a telephone number when the address is supposed to be there," he said.
Kates declined to say whether he would pursue the matter further.