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Only Oswego

Ruling Coming Next Week in Oswego Election Battle

Jan 16, 2015 02:55PM ● By Steven Jack

How the village of Oswego conducts its April 7 election and whether a February primary will be held should be decided by the middle of next week.

A two-hour hearing was held Friday morning at which lawyers representing all of the players in the village’s election ballot battle restated their arguments for 23rd Circuit Court Judge Stephen Krentz. After hearing those arguments, Krentz said he will issue his written decision Wednesday, Jan. 21. A follow up hearing to that decision was set for 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 23, at the Kendall County Courthouse. 

Central in Krentz's ruling will be whether the village should conduct a partisan or non-partisan election in April. Village trustees voted unanimously in July to conduct future elections as non-partisan.

Village Attorney Karl Ottosen again argued the village should follow its July resolution calling for all future elections to be non-partisan. James Murphy, who represents Village President candidate Gail Johnson, and trustee candidates Ryan Kauffman, Karin McCarthy-Lange and Joe West, restated his clients positions that the village did not have the authority to change its election procedure absent a public referendum. 

If Krentz should find in the village’s favor, that may trigger the need for a primary election due to the existence of three candidates who have filed as write-ins for a February primary. 

Attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, who represents Village Clerk Tina Touchette, argued that conducting such a primary would require the circumvention of election law, as several of the deadlines required to conduct a primary have passed. 

Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis, who represented County Clerk Debbie Gillette, also said a Feb. 24 primary would be very difficult for the County Clerk’s office to conduct at such a late stage.

Krafthefer said the candidates who have filed as write-ins for the primary could easily file as write-ins for the April 7 consolidated election. 

Village trustees voted 4-2 one week ago to force this matter before Krentz with Ottosen saying a suit would be the only way to quickly solve the ongoing ballot dispute. The dispute erupted in November  when Village Trustee Terry Michels, a candidate for village president, 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 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.  

Those candidates that filed during the December filing period are Village Trustees 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 legal challenges, the village's Electoral Board ruled Jan. 5 that all candidates who filed during both periods should remain on the ballot. Michels' attorney Bernie Weiler argued his appeal of a portion of the Electoral Board's decision Friday, and Krentz is likely to provide his ruling on that matter next week, as well. 

After the hearing, Johnson said she's confident that all candidates will eventually end up on the ballot. However she expressed her financial frustration caused by the legal battle that's played out over the past two months.  

"I'm just very concerned about the amount of taxpayer money that's being spent here," she said.