8 Will County Dems kicked off November ballot
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org July 24, 2012 4:10PM
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:16AM
JOLIET — Eight Will County Board candidates — all Democrats — were booted from the November ballot Tuesday by the Will County Electoral Board.
If the ballot removals survive the appeals process, some Republicans running for the county board — including board Chairman Jim Moustis and Margo McDermed, wife of Republican Party Chairman Ed Ronkowski — would have no competition on Election Day.
Democratic Party Chairman Scott Pyles said he will appeal the decisions.
Electoral board members Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots and Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Tatroe voted to remove the candidates. Circuit Clerk Pam McGuire voted against removal.
Voots, a Republican, said she believes it’s important for political parties to follow the law when appointing candidates to the ballot. Precinct committeemen weren’t given proper notice of the meeting where the ballot vacancies were being filled, she said.
“I would love to keep them all on the ballot, but the law doesn’t allow me to,” Voots said.
McGuire, a Democrat, said she voted against the removal because she believes the law’s intent is to “favor ballot access” for candidates.
Tatroe was representing Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow on the panel. Glasgow is a Democrat.
Candidates who were removed include: Mario Carlasare of Frankfort, Donald Moran of Romeoville, Reed Bible and Irene Garcia-Wittke of Plainfield, Chester Strzelczyk III of Lockport, and Chris Griffin of Naperville and Santino Lettieri and John Sanchez Jr. of Mokena.
The candidates were appointed to the ballot after the March primary. Republicans objected to the method used by the Democratic Party saying it didn’t follow the letter of the law.
All precinct committeemen in each county board district should have been notified of the meeting to appoint candidates to the ballot, but that didn’t happen, Republican Party Chairman Ed Ronkowski said.
“It’s a sorry day when so many Democratic voters were disenfranchised when their Democratic party committeemen were not allowed to vote because they failed to get notice the law required,” Ronkowski said.
But Pyles said the party was “fully compliant” with notifications and that case law gives political parties some latitude in how they conduct their affairs.
“Mr. Ronkowski seems to be really concerned about the voting rights of the Democratic precinct committeemen,” Pyles said. “Isn’t he concerned about the voters’ rights in the November election?”
Moran, Sanchez and Lettieri, three of the candidates who were removed from the ballot, attended the hearing at the Will County Office Building.
“It would have been nice if the voters could have made the selection,” Moran said.
Sanchez said he believes the Republican Party is in favor of limiting voter choice by purging voter roles and creating more restrictive voter laws.
“If you examine the Republican Party at almost any level of the organization, they don’t have much use for democracy,” he said.
Lettieri said Republicans objected to the appointments because they don’t want competition in November.
“They want to run unopposed so this is what they do to suppress voters,” he said.