DECATUR — Ten Decatur Township candidates can continue their candidacies as a challenge to their nomination papers were dismissed Thursday.
After more than six hours of witnesses, testimony and evidence, the township electoral board accepted a motion to dismiss the challenge because of filing the paperwork after the deadline.
Because most township officials were included in the group whose positions on the ballot were challenged, two members were appointed to the board. The electoral board consisted of Ted Paine, a retired presiding judge of the Macon County Circuit Court; Decatur attorney Jeffrey Richardson; and township trustee Lisa Jones, who is not running for re-election.
Six witnesses discussed and answered questions and set the scene at the township building the afternoon of Jan. 3, the deadline to turn in challenges. The three objectors — township Democratic Chairman Jim Taylor, resident Lloyd Holman and township Assessor Tom Greanias — as well as former objector Kent West, who formally withdrew his name Wednesday due to time constraints — told the board about how they arrived at the township office about 4 p.m. Jan. 3 to complete the paperwork, get it notarized and turn it in to township Clerk Ada Owens.
After some discussion Thursday about an extended deadline due to Owens not working full time as clerk, the board decided Thursday that the deadline for submissions was 4:30 p.m. Jan. 3. The testimony of three objectors, as well as West and Owens, set the time for turning in the papers somewhere between 4:28 and 4:34. While Taylor said he simply gave the challenge papers to Owens, then left her office without discussion, Owens said she told Taylor that the challenges came in too late and would not be submitted for filing.
The board said in its ruling that the matter of credibility came into their decision, and the objector’s testimony about the ‘narrow window’ of filing the paperwork was not sufficient to show it was done in a timely manner.
“I don’t believe for a minute (Owens) took any affirmative act to stay or imply she was extending her office hours,” Richardson said. “At the end of the day, I think the evidence weighs toward finding these papers were submitted for filing after the office hours were closed.”
The decision Thursday means all the challenges made to township candidates for the April election have been dismissed. The board dismissed a challenge made to Greanias’ petitions Wednesday.
The candidates who were challenged varied by party and position, but all except Greanias had been nominated Dec. 4 by their party caucuses.
The Democrats include Lisa Stanley, a trustee who is running for the supervisor’s position; Ada Owens, the clerk who is running for re-election; Michael G. Smith and P. Kay Nuernburger, residents who are running for trustee.
The Republicans include Duane Potter, the supervisor running for re-election; Younker, who is running for assessor; Susan Grant Reynolds, John Sellers, L.C. McClinton and Ervin Arends, who are running for trustee.
Speaking on behalf of nine of the challenged candidates was Springfield attorney Jeffrey Jurgens of Sorling Northrup Attorneys. Another attorney, Tim Tighe, represented Stanley, while McClinton represented himself.
The objectors were represented by Chicago attorney Tiffany Nelson-Jaworski and Bloomington attorney Heather Kimmons, both of Ancel Glink Diamond Bush DiCianni & Krafthefer P.C.