Heated exchanges mark Electoral Board hearing
By Hank Beckman For The Sun January 23, 2013 5:26PM
Naperville City Councilman Doug Krause is a member of the Naperville Electoral Board. He is the senior member of the council. File photo | Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 26, 2013 6:24AM
The public hearing on objections to a petition calling for the retention of Naperville’s at-large system of electing City Council members often took on a heated tone Wednesday.
The ongoing hearings are being held by the Naperville Electoral Board, which is made up of Councilman Douglas Krause, Mayor George Pradel and City Clerk Pamela LaFeber.
Although formal rulings on each of the 25 separate objections won’t come until the end of the hearings, Board members all agreed that the petitioner--Yes, at Large--failed to file the required number of signatures for an advisory referendum.
But a motion made by objector Paul Sjordal’s attorney Doug Ibendahl for summary judgement and outright rejection of the petition was denied.
“Everything was supposed to be in by the close of Monday,” Kevin McQuillan, attorney for YAL, said referring to the Board’s deadline for legal arguments being submitted for review.
The Electoral Board agreed and unanimously denied the motion.
The actual examination of alleged invalid signatures will take place later in the week, but some of the objector’s arguments were legal questions that needed to be addressed.
Among the rulings agreed on by the board were that 1,680 valid signatures - 10 percent of the votes cast for all mayoral candidates in the 2011 election - were required for the binding ballot question, “Shall the City of Naperville elect City Council members at large instead of part of the councilmen at large and part from districts?”
The 10 percent figure is mandated by Illinois state statute for placing questions on the ballot.
Also, the board agreed to review the objector’s allegations that a number of petition sheets were invalidated by circulator error, such as lack of notarization, invalid circulator signature, signature not genuine, or circulator address incomplete.
The proceedings grew heated over Ibendahl’s motion for summary judgement.
When McQuillan made his point about the Monday deadline for filing arguments, Ibendahl shot back, “That’s absurd,” and stressed that the deadline was intended for legal briefs, not motions, going on to say, “Mr. McQuillan’s objection (to his motion) has no merit.”
But City Attorney Margo Ely agreed with McQuillan, saying that the motion, “does relate to legal issues” and advised the Board to reject the motion for summary judgement, which they promptly did.
Krause, senior member of City Council, grew tired of what he considered Ibendahl’s contentious attitude and warned that he was treading on thin ice.
Krause pointed out that, under the rules agreed on by the board, the objector’s entire case could be dismissed if the board agreed that Ibendahl was not, “acting in good faith.”
After more give and take over the question of it ever being permissible for Ibendahl to file for summary judgement, he said, “spoiler alert,” and promised to file another one Thursday morning.
After the hearing, McQuillan declined to comment, but his client, YAL co-founder Rebecca Obarski, said she wasn’t troubled by the Board’s ruling on falling short of enough signatures for an advisory referendum because they intended the question to be binding.
“We want the change to happen,” she said.
As for meeting the 1,680-signature threshold for a binding referendum question, Obarski said she was confident that the group would cross it.
“We’ve got good circulators,” she said.