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Only Oswego

Village President Candidate Michels Drops Out of Race

Jan 26, 2015 03:10PM ● By Steven Jack

Terry Michels

Oswego Trustee and Village President candidate Terry Michels has dropped out of the April 7 election race. 

Saying he didn't want the recent election controversy to be a distraction "from the truth and real issues that this campaign should be about," Michels put his support behind fellow candidate and Trustee Tony Giles. Giles will now face off against Trustee Gail Johnson.

"I am extremely concerned certain candidates will use the election controversy as a smoke screen for their own political gain," Michels said in a news release obtained by Only Oswego. "Residents deserve to know the objectives and goals of the next Village President."

Michels decision comes less than a week after a 23rd Circuit Court judge ruled all Oswego candidates who filed during two separate filing dates in November and December should remain on the ballot. Confusion over the filing dates set off a legal battle that included a series of objection hearings and the village eventually taking the Village and County Clerks to court. 

In his five-page ruling, Judge Stephen 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. 

The wrangling over the April election began in November after a 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. 

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.


The following is the text of the statement issued by Michels Monday afternoon.

“When I entered this race in November, I submitted my election petitions based upon the Resolution that was passed by all Board Members confirming the election format of the Village of Oswego as ‘Non-Partisan’ and as specifically confirmed by Trustee Parr, business partner to Candidate Gail Johnson and by Johnson herself.   

An objection to my petitions was filed by Trustee candidate, Joe West, husband of former trustee Lori West, through his attorney David Silverman, the former Oswego Village Attorney.   Coincidentally, Silverman also represented Village President candidate Gail Johnson and Trustee candidates Kaufman and McCarthy- Lange. 

As a result of West’s objection filing, Oswego taxpayers started to incur wasteful legal fees that resulted in tens of thousands of dollars due to an election hearing board that was convened and legal briefs and filings that were required as part of the hearing. In late December, as a result of West’s initial action, I had no choice but to file a similar objection to his and other candidate petitions. 

Their objective was to throw Diane Selmer, Trustee candidate, and myself off the ballot because we both filed during the Non-Partisan filing period. Democracy doesn’t work that way for those who followed State election law.

During election board testimony, each candidate confirmed that they received the following election materials in the Candidate packet provided by the Village Clerk: The Village Clerk’s memo stating that the Village operated under the Non-Partisan election format but had incorrect filing dates but suggested each candidate consult legal counsel for further advice; 

A copy of the Resolution confirming the Non-Partisan election process of the Village voted on and approved by each Trustee in July, 2014, and a copy of the 94 page State Board of Election 2015 Candidate Guide. When questioned by legal counsel whether the candidates read the election information provided to them stating that the Village was a non-partisan election format, Candidate Tony Giles stated that he voted Yes on the Resolution understanding that he was confirming the Village to be Non-Partisan and took responsibility in admitting that he did not read the State election guide provided to him. He also took responsibility for accepting the consequences of his actions that might preclude him from being permitted on the ballot. I applaud Trustee Giles for his integrity.

Contrary to Giles, candidate Gail Johnson, accepted no responsibility for her actions. She blamed everyone else for her lack of reading the materials and confirmed that she voted Yes on the Resolution confirming the Non-Partisan election process. However, she further stated that she had not read the entire Resolution but yet voted in the affirmative to support it. When further pressed by legal counsel with questioning she stated, ‘ I prefer not to answer the question. “

Michels went on to further state, “We cannot afford to have a candidate like Gail Johnson who is hiding the truth and cannot take responsibility for her own actions. All of this was demonstrated during the recent election board hearing.”

In closing Michels stated, “I have had the great privilege of serving the residents of Oswego for the past eight years. I am so proud of my family for their unending support and sacrifice of family time to allow me to serve the residents of Oswego. I am so thankful to the residents for giving me the opportunity to serve them responsibly, honorably and with integrity. For those that know me, I have never been a politician but rather a public servant. Being a public servant is not meant to be a career. 

They also know that I have conviction in my beliefs. I do not back away from antagonism, intimidation or fear of retribution. No one ever has had to doubt where I stand on a position and I have been forthright in conveying my position. 

My honesty and integrity is paramount to my self- character. I have never taken a position for the purpose of securing votes from future voters. My votes have always been with a clear conscience of what is best for our community. I have always funded my campaigns with my own money and not with money from developers or other special interests. This allowed me to never feel indebted to someone as so many of our politicians do today .

Having served during the greatest economic recession to ever hit our Nation, I am proud to say that your Village has never operated with a deficit during my time as Trustee. A nearly bankrupt water fund has been strengthened to a $10 million dollar surplus without a water rate increase through my efforts to stop the siphoning of revenues from this fund and transferring them to the general fund for further spending. 

Our revenues have continued to grow every year through the recession without my support of a sales tax increase. New retailers have located in our community and many more are on their way bringing additional tax dollars to our community. Property taxes have never been increased and yet home growth continued to flourish during the languishing recessionary times. 

Spending your tax dollars responsibly, opposing tax and water rate increases, providing a safe community, maintaining reliable public services and building a vision for the future are hallmarks of my tenure that I have successfully achieved for you and your family during my time on the Village Board. I look forward to continuing to serve Oswego residents in the same responsible manner I always have for the remainder of my term as your Trustee”.

I have spoken with Tony Giles and conveyed to him my withdrawal from this race based upon the potential distraction from the real issues this Village faces. I’ve expressed to Giles that he and I have been aligned on most issues over the years but always with one common goal – to represent the best interests of our resident taxpayers in a responsible manner while moving the Village forward. 

We are proud to have reduced Village spending, kept taxes in check and defeated proposals to raise taxes, such as sales and gasoline taxes that Trustees Johnson, Parr and Sollinger recently supported. We believe there are more responsible ways to manage taxpayer interests than to tax, borrow and spend. 

Trustee Johnson has aligned herself with developers and special interests to take us back to the days of past administrations where giveaways of countless thousands of dollars were taken from the hands of taxpayers as incentives for the developers own financial gain. Tony and I have fought hard over eight years to keep the special interests out of Oswego from stealing your tax dollars for their own fortune. 

We cannot afford to return to the days of enriching a select few through TIF districts or giveaways. My concern for the community is paramount. I endorse Tony Giles for Village President and encourage all residents who are concerned about future tax increases to support Giles as well to protect your hard earned tax dollars.”