Another candidate may drop out
By bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org January 30, 2013 5:20PM
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:42AM
JOLIET — An election challenge of mysterious origins may succeed in removing a second candidate from the Joliet City Council ballot in April.
Candidate David Piekosz is considering leaving the race rather than deal with the costs and trouble to mount a legal fight to defend his nominating petitions in court. Former candidate John Gnutek already quit the race while facing a challenge to his nominating petitions.
Both are first-time candidates.
If Piekosz leaves the race, it will leave only four candidates vying for three at-large city council positions that will be on the ballot April 9.
The three incumbents are running.
But the main beneficiary of the candidate ousters would seem to be challenger Jim McFarland, since past contests with numerous challengers have diluted the anti-incumbent vote. One challenger means one candidate would get any anti-incumbent votes.
McFarland has not returned phone calls seeking comments on whether he had a role in the attempt to remove other candidates from the ballot. On Wednesday, he did respond to an email but did not comment on whether he was involved in the ballot ousters.
“I trust that the election commission will ensure all candidates are held accountable for delivering their petitions with the legal standards,” McFarland wrote in the email. He added that he was out of state on a family vacation.
On Thursday, McFarland sent another email stating, “I have no involvement in the petition challenge.”
While McFarland is not the official objector to the other candidates’ petitions, the case is being handled by an attorney with a political connection to McFarland.
Attorney Bryan Kopman is chairman of the Troy Township Republican Party.
McFarland is a Republican government official in Troy Township. He’s the township clerk, previously was a township trustee and has run on the Republican slate backed by the party.
Kopman said he never has talked with McFarland about the election challenge.
His only contact, Kopman said, has been with Joseph Fischer, a Joliet resident who is the official objector in the petition challenge.
Fischer would not comment when asked by The Herald-News about the challenge and whether he had any connection to the candidates.
Gnutek’s petitions were riddled with problems. Many of the signers were not registered to vote or not registered at the address on petitions. Gnutek announced he was quitting the race even before he was removed by the Joliet Electoral Board.
But the city electoral board kept Piekosz on the ballot, ruling against Kopman’s contention that signatures did not match up with those found in voter registration records.
So, Kopman next filed an appeal in Will County Circuit Court, which may be the last straw.
Piekosz works at a bank in downtown Chicago and cannot take personal phone calls during the day. But his wife, Carolyn Piekosz, said David is likely to drop out of the race because of the demands of fighting the case in court.
“The costs to go to court and the involvement in the civil case are more than we’re willing to do at this time,” Carolyn Piekosz said.
The three incumbents in the race — Don Fisher, Jan Quillman and Michael Turk — said they were not involved in the challenge to Piekosz’s and Gnutek’s petitions.
Turk said petition challenges are rare in Joliet elections.
“I would never challenge anybody’s petitions for political reasons,” said Turk, who has been elected to the council at-large post seven times. “I don’t recall any at-large race that I’ve been involved that any of the candidates have been challenged.”