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Oswego Village President Candidate Michels Seeks Removal of Panel Member

Dec 29, 2014 07:27PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Village President candidate Terry Michels gives testimony during a recent petition objection hearing.

A preliminary hearing Monday afternoon to throw out the petitions of seven candidates for Oswego elected office ended with an attempt to remove one of the board members deciding the case.

An attorney for Village President candidate Terry Michels, who filed the petition objections, entered a motion to remove Electoral Board member Judy Sollinger from the three-member panel because she had notarized the petitions of three of the candidates facing objection from Michels. 

Sollinger provided notary service for trustee candidates Karin McCarthy-Lange, Ryan Kauffman and Joe West. Michels filed objections to their petitions Dec. 23 along with the nominating petitions of Village President candidates Gail Johnson, Tony Giles and two other village trustee candidates — Brian Thomas and Rasma Motykowski.

"We believe this brings into question the propriety of this member," said Michels' attorney Bernie Weiler. "We believe her objectivity is called into question."

More Objections Filed in Oswego Election Ballot Battle

Attorney James Murphy, who is representing the three and Village President candidate Gail Johnson, said he believes Sollinger's notarization does not harm her impartiality in this case. He said he plans to submit a written objection to the Electoral Board 
by Wednesday.

Giles, who was not represented by an attorney at Monday's hearing, said he did not formally object to Sollinger's presence on the panel; however, he feels the hearings should be "above board."

Monday's hearing, along with a possible vote on Sollinger's status on the board, was continued to 7 p.m. Jan. 5 when testimony will be heard by both sides. That's the same evening the Electoral Board may rule on objections filed to both Michels' and trustee candidate Diane Selmer's petitions. 

Michels and Selmer are both in the midst of fighting to keep their own names on the election ballot after their nominating petitions were objected to by trustee candidate West

A July resolution passed unanimously by village trustees changed the village's election process to non-partisan. Non-partisan elections require an earlier filing period and a possible February primary if enough candidates file. As part of West's objections to Michels petitions, lawyers have cited Illinois statute that requires a referendum to change the form of municipal elections. 

Michels’ objections are the latest in the election controversy that erupted last month when Michels, a candidate for village president, and trustee candidate Selmer were the only two to file during the filing period for non-partisan elections that ended Nov. 24. 

Several other candidates who plan to run for village offices believed they had until Dec. 22 to file their petitions, as has been past village practice and is erroneously stated in the village’s candidate election packet and on its website. 

If the other candidates are not eventually allowed on the April 7 ballot, Michels and Selmer will be the only two names to appear for village president and three open village trustee seats.  

News, Community Oswego Election battle

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