Objection Filed Against Worth Township Incumbents
Oak Lawn resident is trying to get Worth Township Assessor John Toscas and Worth Township Trustee Jack Lind thrown off April 9 ballot because of conflicts of interest.
The fate of two incumbents running for the Worth Township Board will be decided Monday in a hearing before the township electoral board comprised of members from their own political slate.
The objector, Craig Cisko of Oak Lawn, hopes to toss John Toscas off the April 9 ballot, charging he is in violation of state election guidelines prohibiting candidates from running for two offices at one time.
Toscas is running for mayor of Crestwood and for reelection as assessor for Worth Township. He is currently an elected Crestwood Village trustee.
Similarly, Jack Lind is running for another term as township trustee while currently holding office as an elected trustee on the Chicago Ridge Village Board.
“Jack Lind has been sitting on both boards in complete violation of state guidelines the past two years,” Democratic Worth Township Committeeman John O’Sullivan said.
The only reason Lind has been allowed to do so is because no one has filed a lawsuit challenging it, O'Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan is aligned with the Worth Township Community First Party, a slate of challengers that bill themselves as “reform” candidates who are mounting an aggressive campaign against the incumbent party, which has run unopposed for the past 16 years.
The Worth Township Community First Party supports term limits, salary freezes and suspension of pensions for township elected officials. The slate is banking on a rule in the 2013 Illinois State Board of Elections Guidelines, which specifically states that candidates cannot run for two political offices at one time.
The rule requires a candidate to withdraw from all but one office within five business days following the last day of petition filing, if the offices are incompatible. Should a candidate fail to do so, he or she is barred from running in both elections.
The objector’s attorney Jim Nally, plans to argue an opinion by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, which says the township assessor and a village trustee are in conflict--or "incompatible"--with each other.
In 1993, then Attorney General Roland Burris ruled that an elected official could not simultaneously hold office as township assessor and as a village trustee in a municipality located within the same township.
“If you’re a local elected official, the goal is to keep taxes as low as possible. The assessor makes sure everyone pays a fair share,” Nally said. “The town assessor could underassess the town. [The Illinois Attorney General’s] opinion is you don’t have to wait for that to happen. There could be a conflict so you can’t do both.”
For the past two years at least, Lind has concurrently held office as a Worth Township trustee, and as an elected trustee on the Chicago Ridge Village Board. While Illinois allows an elected official to hold more than one office simultaneously, the objector claims that Lind also is in violation because the two offices are “incompatible.”
“All of Chicago Ridge is in Worth Township,” O’Sullivan said.
Toscas and Lind’s fellow slate mates—Town Supervisor John "Jack" Murphy, Clerk Roger Benson and Trustee Michael Mahoney—are sitting on the township electoral board.
O’Sullivan says the three hearing officials should recuse themselves because the objection involves members of their own political slate.
In a news release O’Sullivan cautions to expect “shenanigans” at Monday's electoral board hearing:
“Toscas, a staunch Republican and insider of former governor and current convict George Ryan, is expected to walk Monday, being given a pass by his running mates who are expected to flaunt state guidelines in favor of one of their own.”
The Worth Township Electoral Board hearing starts at 11 a.m. at the Worth Township office, 11601 S. Pulaski Road, in Alsip.