Sodaro Wins Partial Victory in Petition Challenge
Oak Lawn Electoral Board dismisses part of challenge against village board candidate Dan Sodaro based on error made in objection. Hearing will resume on other challenges Jan. 20.
Dan Sodaro won a partial victory at an electoral board hearing on Friday in a motion to dismiss a challenge made against his nominating petitions for Oak Lawn village board trustee.
Oak Lawn resident Andy Skoundrianos is trying to get Sodaro disqualified from the April 5 ballot on grounds that residents signed Sodaro’s nominating petitions for persons other than the circulators whose names appear on the petition sheets and for fraudulent signatures.
Sodaro, a twice-elected member of the Ridgeland District 122 school board and its current president, is challenging long-time trustee Bob Streit for the 3rd District seat on the village board.
The village electoral board voted 2-1 to dismiss part of the challenge against Sodaro because the elected office he is seeking was stated incorrectly as “Circuit Court Judge of Cook County." Sodaro is running for village trustee.
Mayor Dave Heilmann and Trustee Jerry Hurckes (1st District) both voted to sustain that part of the motion. Village Clerk Jane Quinlan did not think the error invalidated the challenge to Sodaro’s nominating petitions.
Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, the attoney representing Sodaro, argued that once an objection is filed it cannot be corrected based on Illinois election laws.
Dennis Brennan, representing Skoundrianos, said his client had no intention of amending the challenge.
“I have a hard time reconciling what is being asked and you’re not seeking an amendment,” Heilmann said, who is chairing the village election board.
“I don’t know how we can legally grant what you are asking … I looked through all the cases and I see both arguments,” the mayor told Brennan.
Attorneys for both sides also argued over the actual required number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Earlier in the week Sodaro survived a binder check at the Cook County Clerk's office. Of the 96 signatures that Sodaro collected, eight were tossed.
Brennan is trying to boost the number of signatures required on nominating petitions by combining the number of votes cast in the last village board race with the number of votes cast in the third district for library trustees. Accoding to Brennan, that number is 86.
Sodaro's attorney argued that the law states that only the number of those votes cast in the third district village trustee race--and no others--when figuring out how many signatures are needed on nominating petitions. Krafthefer said the minimum number of signatures needed is 73.
Candidates are required to collect a between 5 and 8 percent of the total ballots cast in the last municipal election.
In addition, Krafthefer said that her client was not given enough notice—or clarification—of what state election laws he has been accused of violating.
Heilmann did most of the talking for the three-member board and continued the village electoral board hearing to 5 p.m. Jan. 20, in Oak Lawn Village Hall at 9446 S. Raymond St. The village electoral board is expected to decide to dismiss the entire challenge or continue with the hearing, where the objectors will be able to present their evidence.
After the hearing, Brennan called the electoral board a “kangaroo court” and accused two of the board members—Heilman and Hurckes—of ignoring the case law he introduced.
“They support Sodaro and the idea of circulators committing perjury,” Brennan said. “Their minds were already made up. Dave is friends with Sodaro."
“The problem with electoral boards is you have members who support a candidate ... Dave is trying to get a candidate in District 3 and so is Jerry. How can we expect to get a fair shake?”
Brennan said that if the challenge is dismissed “we’ll appeal right away.”
Sodaro was still trying to figure out what happened.
“Obviously this is still going on,” he said. “I don’t know what it is actually being said. It’s been a little distracting.”
Sodaro said whether or not his name is on the ballot, his campaign is moving forward. A website is expected to be launched next week and he’s talking to voters this weekend.
“If you’re driving around Oak Lawn this weekend, you’ll see me,” he said.