DECATUR — Decatur Township Assessor Tom Greanias is free to continue his pursuit of re-election after a challenge against his candidacy was dismissed Wednesday.
But legal proceedings are set to continue today in the objections to 10 other candidates for various township positions. The matter represents another development in tensions that have continued for years among township officials and several interested citizens.
Because most township officials were included in the group whose positions on the ballot were challenged, two members were appointed to the panel that oversaw legal proceedings Wednesday in the Macon County Office Building. The electoral board is made up 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.
They found the challenge to Greanias’ petitions to run as an independent was not sufficient.
Challenger Charles Hill, whom Greanias has said he does not know, appeared at the hearing. He was represented by township trustee Mark Younker, who said Greanias had too many signatures on his petitions and many of the signatures were invalid.
However, Greanias’ attorney Jerry Stocks successfully argued that the objection Hill filed does not specify which signatures, other than two, were “bad.” He also argued that having too many signatures on a petition should not cause the candidate to be removed from the ballot.
After that matter concluded, attorneys for the 10 township candidates and their challengers exchanged detailed legal arguments, rife with case law citations, for more than two hours.
The objectors are township Democratic Chairman Jim Taylor, resident Lloyd Holman and Greanias. Another challenger, Kent West, formally withdrew his name, saying he no longer had time to dedicate to the matter.
The candidates who were challenged varied by party and position, but all had been nominated Dec. 4 by their party caucuses.
The Democrats are 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 are 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 candidates, attorney Jeffrey Jurgens said the objection to their candidacies was filed after office hours and should not be considered valid. He also said a single objection could not be filed against the nominating petitions of 10 different people.
Further, Jurgens took issue with allegations that the candidates had not properly filed their statements of economic interest, which are part of the requirements for a position on the ballot. In several cases, the candidates had filed such a statement with the county within the past year, Jurgens said.
“How is there a legitimate state interest in throwing someone off the ballot who’s already been voted on by the voters of their caucus because of a technical issue related to the filing of the statement of economic interest?” Jurgens said.
Another attorney, Tim Tighe, also appeared representing Stanley. McClinton represented himself.
The objectors were represented by Chicago attorney Adam Lasker and Bloomington attorney Heather Kimmons, both of Ancel Glink Diamond Bush DiCianni & Krafthefer P.C.
Citing case law, Lasker said the objection should be accepted even if it was filed late, because Owens, the township clerk, stamped it as “received” when marking the time that she was given the document.
He said there was no problem with naming all 10 candidates in the single objection. “This happens all the time, and there’s no case law that (says) it’s wrong,” he said.
The three-member panel is set to hear more evidence on the candidates’ motion today to dismiss the objections against them. That evidence likely will include testimony by Owens and other township employees describing the manner in which Taylor filed his objections.