Campaign complaint dropped against Steve McMichael in Romeoville mayor’s race
By bob okon firstname.lastname@example.org February 20, 2013 4:11PM
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:17AM
Romeoville mayoral candidate Steve McMichael said Thursday that an election complaint against his campaign was part of an effort to “besmirch” his reputation.
Incumbent Mayor John Noak in turn said he wants a series of debates with McMichael to focus on issues.
The two are the only candidates in a unique campaign that features McMichael, a former Bears football player, against Noak, who contends his opponent is getting undue media attention because of his status as a player in the 1985 Superbowl team.
“I would be very happy to debate Mr. McMichael on actual issues rather than having him call press conferences on these little side issues,” Noak said.
McMichael used the occasion of his victory in the election challenge to contend his reputation is under attack.
“They’re trying to besmirch my name — besmirch me, trying to get people to think, ‘I’m not going to vote for him,’” McMichael said.
The actual election complaint may have gone largely unnoticed, but for McMichael and his campaign drawing attention to it.
McMichael on Wednesday issued a news release announcing that the complaint had been withdrawn and followed up Thursday with a press conference to discuss the matter some more.
“I had to attain legal counsel to defend myself on this — these frivolous charges,” he said. “I guess that’s politics as usual.”
The complaint was brought by Village Trustee Kenneth Griffin, who contended that McMichael’s campaign had not filed the necessary paperwork to report contributions and spending. Griffin withdrew the complaint after a preliminary hearing.
Griffin said he withdrew the complaint because he did not want to spend the time and money to pursue it further and contended he had made his point.
McMichael’s attorney said the complaint was withdrawn after an election board officer at a preliminary hearing repeatedly said there was no substance to the charges. Attorney Lisa Marie Raucci said McMichael’s campaign simply had not yet reached the spending threshold at which paperwork needed to be filed before Griffin filed his complaint.
Griffin acknowledged talking with Noak before filing the complaint. Griffin also used the same attorney that the mayor had used when he called for equal air time while McMichael was doing a sports radio show on ESPN before Bears games. McMichael was taken off of the air before the last Bears game of the season.
Noak dismissed the claim that Griffin’s complaint was an attempt to sully McMichael’s reputation.
“In this day and age, it’s not unusual for people to keep an eye on the way we (candidates) are collecting contributions and spending money,” Noak said.
At his press conference, McMichael did talk about other issues, questioning why people’s property taxes are going up while their home values are falling and why Romeoville residents face automatic annual increases in water bills.
“I don’t see why there has to be a mandatory hike in the water bills in this town,” McMichael said.
Noak said the hike was put in place on a gradual basis over 10 years to avoid the sharper increases that were done in other communities to fund their water systems. He noted that McMichael, who rented a Romeoville apartment in April, did not live in town when the village decided to implement the 10-year plan.
“We saw other communities go up anywhere from 25 percent to 90 percent,” Noak said.
As for property taxes, Noak said the village government portion of the tax bill actually has gone down the last two years, and the city even has been able to rebate $20 to taxpayers.