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Judge Orders All Oswego Candidates on April Election Ballot

Jan 21, 2015 12:32PM ● Published by Steven Jack

EDITOR'S NOTE: Attempts to reach Village President candidates Terry Michels and Tony Giles for comment have been unsuccessful. Should either candidate respond to requests for comment, this story will be updated. 

All candidates who filed for Oswego village offices during the November and December filing period shall appear on the ballot, according to a Wednesday morning ruling from 23rd Circuit Court Judge Stephen Krentz. 

In his five-page ruling, Krentz said without a voter referendum, the village did not have the proper legal authority to change its election process from partisan to non-partisan in July. Absent that referendum, the village is to conduct a partisan election in April, Krentz said. 

“I am excited for the residents, and that they will get a choice of who is going to lead them into the future,” said Trustee Gail Johnson, who is running for Village President.  “This election debacle has put the focus on the candidates and it’s time we put the focus back on the community.”

With the order that the village shall conduct a partisan election comes the end of the question over a potential February primary. There will be no primary, and trustee write-in candidates James Marter and his son James Marter II will be able to file as write-ins for the April election 61 days prior to the vote.

The legal wrangling over the April election began in November after the July resolution passed unanimously by village trustees changed the village's election process to non-partisan. Non-partisan elections require a November filing period and a possible February primary if enough candidates file. 

Village President candidate Terry Michels and Trustee candidate Diane Selmer were the only two to file during the filing period for non-partisan elections that ended Nov. 24. 

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

Those candidates who filed during the December filing period are Village Trustees Tony Giles and Johnson for village president, and trustee candidates Ryan Kauffmann, Karin McCarthy-Lange, Joe West, Brian Thomas and Rasma Motykowski.

After a series of candidate petition objections, the village’s Electoral Board ruled Jan. 5 that all candidates should appear on the April 7 ballot. About one week later, village trustees voted to file suit against the village and county clerks to force Krentz to determine the April election process. 

Cost to taxpayers

How much the legal battle has cost the village has yet to be determined. Village Administrator Steve Jones said Wednesday morning bills from the village's law firm of Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo are only current through October — before the controversy began.

The village also has not received a bill from Electoral Board lawyer Charles Harvis, who conducted four board hearings on behalf of the village. However, Ancel Glink, the firm that once represented Village Clerk Tina Touchette on behalf of the village, has billed $6,800, Jones said.

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